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DISCOVER, EXPLORE & EXPERIENCE THE WORLD

ASIA SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

A Beijing state of mind

China’s quietly evolving capital city PLUS

l Hanoi’s Hidden Eats l Fall in Love with Barcelona l The Perfect Trip: Morocco

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Dreamlike and Fold 2 dramatic at the same time, Cappadocia in central Turkey is WHY GO? a world of its own WHY GO?

t 2011 MINI GUIDE Sep/Oc

GUIdE Aug/Sep a, 2011 oci pad CapmINI

key , TurDelhi

India

See ES 1 BEST FOR LANDSCAP is a Göreme Open-Air Museumwith dotted World Heritage site churches, medieval painted cave from less than a mile uphill The buildings Göreme village. BESTsoft FORvolcanic HISTORY 1 from are carvedThe vast Red Fort is a sandstone decorated with stone and carcass its former is churches of Göreme Open-Air Açikself butThe frescoesof(Göreme Byzantine still the best place to imagine the are covered in frescoes US$10). Museum Hava Müzesi; 8am-5pm;

rock The valleys and eroded . Look closely this alluring landscape chimneys markHOW cut into the rock, TO GO churches and homes in a and you’ll see Air can take (jetairways.com), Indiarich (airindia.in), Jet Airways and frescoes. You with often decorated balloon, and sunsetfly direct from Singapore a hot-air(singaporeair.com) from Airlines Cappadocian dawn hotel. Singapore to Delhi’scave Indira Gandhi International Airport of your boutique from the terrace

16 kilometres southwest of the city. From Kuala Lumpur, fly Air Asia X (airasia. com) or Malaysia Airlines (malaysiaairlines.com).

Above: a ride Left: fairy chimneys. direct with is a must in a hot-air balloon

Eat & drink

LEFT Greek Tomb. OldHumayun’s The restaurant of theRIGHT Hand-carved of the best Indian elephant House 6 hotel is one

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MINI GUIDES TO KEEP

SGD 7.50 RM 15 NT 270 RP 75.000 THB 195 MICA (P) 112/04/2011, PPS 1747/01/2012(028336)

l Miri l Delhi l Cappadocia l Edinburgh l Marseille l San Francisco along the dotted lines

the dotted lines

mercury rising to 45°C in summer and dropping to 5°C in winter. The best time to visit is February to March,

TO DO? WHAT IS THERE and post-monsoon known as fairy to the end November. formsmid-September

cuisine in places to try Ottoman by village the region. Prepared barbunya women, dishes include sauce), (lima beans in tomato carrot salad and fantastic In ChandniUS$57) Chowkismarket you’ll baklava. The hotel (from stay (00 place to terrace is a great place find foodstall-lined Paratha Wali Dimrit’s also an excellent sunset se. famous back and watch the 6 , Delhi’s most to sit food Galioldgreekhou 90 384 353 5141; ¸a; or white Mustafapas street. Potato, almond Caddesi, com; S¸ahin ). radish-stuffed parathas (flatWith its hillside terraces, Dimrit mains US$4–US$13 Mughal city’s splendour. It dates name, and spend a uninspired come fresh off the Despite itsbreads) 9 is a top spot to eat 2 century, a time of from the 17th RE 4 7 is one of salads, BEST FOR VIEWS BEST FOR ATMOSPHE hotplate and are served with Local Restaurant sunset. The menu features as over eunuchs, ceremonial elephants a terrace valleys of Sog˘lani are such There’s A dawn balloon ride twin best. specials The tangy pickles (Chandni Chowk; and Göreme’s fish, grills and fairy and an interior clad in precious they didn’t valleys purée stone-walled deep-worn magnificent, even if Mon-Sat; parathas US$0.70). and an elegant, lamb kebab with eggplant magical (Lahore Gate; 9am-6pm is a truly Wars despite is attentive Yunak chimneysstones Service 8585; feature in Star room. 341 dining 384 Try stuffed parathas from stalls on A hole-in-the-wall joint in Khan Visit the Red Fort, begun in 1638 90 s.com (00 Tue-Sun; US$5.70). Try ezairballoon 40, dishes are guides’ claims. The Caddesi experience. FikretWali mischievous Paratha Gali, Chandni Chowk 7 Teyfik by emperor Shah Jahan and the scrumptious Market, Khan Chacha’s Mahallesi, in Ürgüp, is easily $14). (00 90 384 271 and sultanballoons.com northernmost valley reasonably priced kebabs and rolls are so popular Ürgüp; mains US$6.50–US about two BESTalloons.com FOR VIEWS 2 at or kapadokyab Caddesi 38, Göreme; circuited on foot in 2629; Müzethat you’ll probably have to Style meets substance mornings, Swagath 9 serves brilliant many (mostlargest in the India’s mosque, Jamahours, taking BEST FOR STROLLING 4 mains US$7.30). in Göreme 10 . Pick one of the many A’laturca queue. Try roti-wrapped mutton Mangalorian and Chettinad 8 , named after from US$250). was built in the 17th rock-cut churches. From Raisina Hill, the ceremonial Apr-Nov;Masjid, such as the garden Cool Ziggy’s seating seekhsong, or paneer tikka, which are areas,cuisine, notably has stylish seafood dishes. and try century by emperor Shah Jahan Rajpath (Kings Way) leads through the David Bowie 3 its beanbag seating, 5 well worthterraces the waitand (Flat 50,with Middle Favourites at the smart, six-floor ADVENTUR kebab, BEST FOR and HISTORY can hold 25,000 worshippers. architect EdwinE Lutyens’ plaza to on multi-level BEST FOR décor the succulent Erciyes craggy of the largest of Lane, Khan Market; 12–11pm is one can opt for garlic restaurant are dal-e-Swagat andits routes cross thearch Kaymakli Climb the southern of India aGate. jazz soundtrack. You served on fried potatoes ¸sehriminaret Trekking the sandstone with yeralti 37 set ’s dotted Mon-Sun; snacks US$0.80). ranges 2882; (lentil curry) and coconut chicken Cappadocia (women mustopen be accompanied with water features and limestoneLined a cocktail or the 12-course Yunak to the yoghurt (00 90 384 271 Dag˘lar d cities) Over the7107; last six decades, in theitAla (undergroun curry (00 Caddesi, 91 11 2433 7538; waterfallslawns .tr; Müze by a man) than for superb city views takesto in the President’s menu (00 90 384 341 alaturca.com 13 8 has become more best get 16). Moti an Fikret Caddesi Park. It’s public. Built Teyfik Mahal swagath.in; 14 Defence Colony; US$6.50–US$ (non-Muslims 8.30am–12.30pmNational and House (larger than Versailles), the Mahallesi, Göreme; mains .50). ago as a refuge for US$73 per day) renowned for Mughlai centuries mains US$8–US$10 lunch and dinner; US$4–US$20). 2pm–4.30pm; US$1.60).a guide (around North and South Secretariat 24, andÜrgüp;institution from Persian June and ristians minaret

See

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6

India’s capital is in places a city of medieval mayhem – crowded, polluted and intense. But it’s also the

maiden aunt of late-British colonial rule and showcase old eruption Born from the millenniaof a modernthe republic. Like a subcontinental Rome, it g˘i volcano, of the Erciyes Da is brimsrewith ruins andiamonuments. of Cappadoc troglodyte architectu terrain of rock columns, unique – a bizarre WHEN s,TO GOancient where pyramids and mushroom Delhihomes. is a city of extreme temperatures, with the empires made their

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Barcelona www.spain.info www.catalunya.com

d e h s i n i f n u y l t Perfec

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CONTENTS VOLUME 2 ISSUE 5 / SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

6 Share! Your questions, insider tips and holiday snapshots

POSTCARDS

8 Elephants in Amboselli National Park and other images from your travels

ON THE ROAD

17 A round-up of news from around the world

10 EASY TRIPS 28 Nakasendo, Japan Walk on an ancient highway from Kyoto to Tokyo 29 Yangon, Myanmar Celebrate The Full Moon Day of Thadingyut, the Lighting Festival of Myanmar 30 Melbourne, Australia Catch regional and international artistes at the Melbourne International Arts Festival 30 Sabah, Malaysia Ride on a vintage steam locomotive up northern Borneo 31 Bangalore, India One of India’s most vibrant and modern cities 32 Phuket, Thailand Death-defying theatrics at Phuket’s Vegetarian Festival 33 Ningaloo Coast This new World Heritage Site boasts amazing biodiversity 34 Qiandao Lake, China Discover a lost city in the lake of a thousand islands 34 Siem Reap, Cambodia Don’t miss the P’Chum Ben Festival 35 Kaohsiung, Taiwan Head out to Cijin Island for ocean breeze and fresh seafood

FEATURES

1

A BEIJING STATE OF MIND

Among the skyscrapers of this modern Chinese city, an artistic and cultural reawakening is quietly underway p36

36 A Beijing State of Mind BBC correspondent Fergal Keane revisits China’s capital to discover a new cultural evolution 48 The Perfect Trip: Morocco Begin in heady Marrakesh before escaping to Morocco’s coast and desert with our step-by-step guide 58 Barcelona: More Than Meets the Eye Alternative architecture, hidden museums, new views, and little-known bars and restaurants 72 Hanoi Confidential Join writer Nga Hoang as she tracks down her top seven hidden eateries and café in her native town

INSIDER 86 The Guide Where to go for wondrous skies and how to avoid a scam PHOTOGRAPHS: MATT MUNRO, PHILIP LEE HARVEY, DAVE LEMKE, RITA LONG AHMAD

88 Anything To Declare Samantha Brown on walking for six hours 89 Don’t Miss Out Our guide to what’s coming up worldwide 90 Meet Abbas and Melisa Teo: two photographers, two perspectives, two styles 94 Subscribe and receive a Sarah Jessica Parker’s Covet frangrance worth US$65

MINI GUIDES 99 Miri, Malaysia A great base to explore the four surrounding national parks 101 Delhi, India Delhi’s allure lies in the clash of modern life and its epic origins 103 Cappadocia, Turkey Fairy chimneys and frescoes in this ancient kingdom 105 Marseilles, France Excellent nightlife, jazz festivals and bouillabaisse 107 Edinburgh, Scotland Rocky crags and elegant Georgian architecture dominate this Scottish city 109 San Francisco, USA Take in the view from the Golden Gate Bridge 111 Win 3 days / 2 nights stay* at Swissôtel Merchant Court worth US$4,100 2

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

BARCELONA: MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE 4

We uncover Barcelona’s secret side p58


3

AMBOSELLI, KENYA

Catching a glimpse of the majestic Mount Kilimanjaro and other images from your travels p8

THE PERFECT TRIP: MOROCCO 2

Discover the delights of its desert, coast and cities with our step-by-step guide p48

5 4 6

1 2

8 2

5

4

1

3

10

5

WHERE WE’VE BEEN THIS MONTH

3

7

2 3

9 6

1

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Your guide to the destinations we’ve covered in this issue 10 EASY TRIPS

HANOI CONFIDENTIAL 5

Venture down backstreets and narrow alleyways to find some of Hanoi’s hidden eats p72

PAGE

1 Nakasendo, Japan

28

2 Yangon, Myanmar

29

3 Melbourne, Australia

30

4 Sabah, Malaysia

30

5 Bangalore, India

31

6 Phuket, Thailand

32

7 Ningaloo Coast

33

8 Qiandao Lake, China

34

9 Siem Reap, Cambodia 34 10 Kaohsiung, Taiwan

MINI GUIDES

35

PAGE

1 Miri, Malaysia

99

2 Delhi, India

101

3 Cappadocia, Turkey

103

4 Marseille, France

105

5 Edinburgh, Scotland

107

6 San Francisco, USA

109


NEED TO GET IN TOUCH? Subscription, editorial and advertising enquiries +65 6543 3681 Advertising enquiries sales@regentmedia.sg Subscription enquiries subscription@regentmedia.sg Editorial enquiries lpmagazine@regentmedia.sg Subscription, editorial and advertising enquiries Regent Media Pte Ltd 3 Loyang Way Singapore 508719 ASIA TEAM Publisher Cecilia Woo Editor Joyce Huang Senior writer Derek Rodriguez Writer Darren Wong Junior writer Louis Law Art director Cally Han Graphic designer Diyan Julia/Joanna Cheng Senior marketing manager Tasmin Chua Marketing Executive Lim Kai Yan Circulation manager Adeline Tay Finance manager Julie Khong Production executive Jovin Low Customer service executive Beth Kwok Senior business manager Marie Yeo Business manager Samantha Ng UK TEAM Editor Peter Grunert Art director Hayley Ward Assistant editors Amanda Canning, Natalie Millman Features editor Orla Thomas Publishing director Dominic Murray Managing director Peter Phippen Group editorial director Nicholas Brett Head of international development James Hewes International partners manager Linda Ligios Syndication or licensing enquiries: intmags@bbc.co.uk MEDIA REPRESENTATIVES Brunei Lim Min Yaw (sales@purplemedia.asia) China Brian Lai (crbcinfo@gmail.com) Hong Kong/Macau Mariam Wong (mariam.wang@

publicitas.com) Indonesia Panca R Sarungu (psarungu@pristamedia.com) Japan Tsuyuki (tsuyuki@mcijapan.com)) Thailand Hemant N Sonney (hemant@sonneymedia.com) Philippines Sabrina Chiu (sabrina@prostaffasia.com)

Revisiting While I love the anticipation of visiting and discovering a new country or city, there is nothing quite like a good revisit. This past May, I went back to the university town in Germany where I had spent time as a student, after being away for more than five years. Everything felt strangely familiar yet refreshingly foreign. My revisit as a traveller allowed me to view the town through different eyes. Places transform, people change, and we, as travellers, mature. That is why I believe every destination warrants a second, and maybe third, visit. Revisiting a destination throws light on how and why people and culture evolve. You’ve seen Barcelona as Gaudi’s city, so how about revisiting and paying more attention to the city’s lesserknown delights (p58)? Why not check in on Beijing three years after its Olympics ‘Coming Out’ party and discover how it has evolved (p36)? Or consider heading up to Hanoi and for once not have a bowl of pho but save your tummy space for some of the more uncommon local delicacies (p72)?

DISTRIBUTORS Singapore Region Periodicals Distributor Pte Ltd Malaysia MPH Distributors Sdn Bhd Hong Kong Times Publishing (HK) Ltd Indonesia PT Java Books Indonesia Thailand Asia Books Co., Ltd Taiwan Formosan Magazine Press Inc Lonely Planet MICA (P) 112/04/2011, ISSN 2010-0825, PPS 1747/01/2012(028336), is published bi-monthly by Regent Media Pte Ltd. No part of this publication is to be reproduced, stored, transmitted, digitally or otherwise, without the prior consent of the publisher. The information contained herein is accurate at time of printing. Changes may have occurred since this magazine went to print. Regent Media Pte Ltd and its editors will not be held liable for any damages, loss, injury or inconvenience, arising in connection with the contents of the magazine. Regent Media Pte Ltd will not accept responsibility for unsolicited contributions. Printer: KHL Printing Co Pte Ltd (197801823M) Lonely Planet is distributed in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan.

A Publication of

4

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

Joyce Huang, Editor

FROM TOP LEFT Outdoor sculptures – like Alfredo Lanz’s Homenage a la Natación, in Plaza del Mar – are a common sight in Barcelona (p58); in a Beijing noodle shop, long strings of dough are pulled over and over to form noodles (p36); Essaouira, Morocco is awash with colour – from the natural dyes to traditional dress (p48)

THIS MONTH’S COVER

Visitors taking photos of Qinian Hall (Hall of Prayer for good harvest) of Temple of Heaven. Beijing. China

PHOTOGRAPH PHOTOLIBRARY

CONTRIBUTORS THIS MONTH TIM MOORE

NGA HOANG

DAVE LEMKE

Tim Moore has reported in Lonely Planet Magazine on a hidden church in Amsterdam and chilli perfectionism in Texas. Here he gives his take on magical Barcelona, p58

Hanoi-born writer, Nga Hoang enjoys hiding away in a street cafe to watch the swarm of street traffic over coffee. She brings us on a foodie trail around her native town, p72.

Dave Lemke is a Canadian who has lived in Vietnam since 2008. He follows Nga on a Hanoi foodie trail and took some intriguing shots, p72.


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Malmö’s climate is milder than most of Sweden. There are 18 hours of daylight in June compared to only eight in December. The Malmö Festival

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A mix of medieval trading port and modern design centre makes southern Sweden’s cosmopolitan city well suited to a short break, and a fine base for exploring the surrounding province. out page

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waterfront, local 6 is a Speightstown Pub fish from On the up back the Fisherman’s that serves off the institutionfloating music on dish as local the boats steel-pan national as well Sugar with Try the deck, and okra) cocktails Brown 1 fancy dishes at Find Wednesdays. (cornmeal 422 2703; 246 and Creole dinner of the PLANTATIONS of cou-coufish (00 9 , in bustling FOR is one Mon-Sat, in Caribbean in and flying BEST Abbey St; lunch Ragamuffins houses are specialisesthe blackened very US$5-US$8). Queen St Nicholas 7 is a plantation mains On St The grounds Holetown, rum and daily; oldest Place with attitude: joy. for and the about dishes aioli is pure show (00 David’s the Caribbean. is famous glide spot overlooking drag gorgeoushouses historical fish withthere’s a of Oistinsparties records romantic Bay. Waitersand Creole simply fry slave museum ragamuffins The village fish Sunday Lawrence platters sugar including 422 8725; Street, 4 its weekend Tree 435 9755; St 246 4321295; 1st with seafood artefacts, (00 246 Cherry mains south (00 246 BEACHES US$15). barbados.com; dinner; curries and ledgers Tue-Sun; the coast FOR Sugar follow should. Look dinner BEST Holetown; 10am-3.30pm; davidsplacebarbados.com; stnicholasabbey.com; Gap; Brown West Peter; Few people They Bay, wherea The US$23-US$24). 2 Lawrence Hill, St was of Bathsheba. and US$16-US$24) paradise.and The much-loved Roundhouse the for Martin’s HISTORY House mains of beach tropical popular as FOR and 10 is a is a is for signs a sliver about two The popular8 overlooksknown Washington BEST find buffet break US presidenttheir you’ll shop. Afterroad leads Indian bread pudding 4267684; Restaurant reef banana bread The George of the during Bay (00 246 little rum a steep empty on a the Bajan and world-famous There’s the home Lawrence delight miles, houses Bowl. sandwiches such Sun-Fri, more Bath Beach, with rummy It now Soup his brother lunch to 1751. 18th-century and specials(00 US$20, down brownsugarbarbados.com; and crowded at breakfast, stay in bringing 246 228 5461; Bridgetown;buffet on weekends. at lunch, at dinner .org; weekdays Street, daily; lunch soup families salads museum to life (00 5 laughing dinner roundhouse as breadfruit Barbados US$16-US$32). 9678; St Joseph, 9am-4.30pm CULTURE mains 246 433 georgewashingtonbarbados FOR with its battered lunch Hill, Garrison; BEST barbados.com; breakfast, Bush US$9.70). characters,with US$16-US$24). 3 Speightstown, charm to and local Bathsheba; mains Mon-Fri; LOCATIONS façades old colonialDrop in to 109 BARBEQUE and dinner; NUMBER vibe. is its large, FOR AND On combines is home BEST of Oistins market. MAP which the FOR fish the a down-to-earth 2011 House, run by The heart OVER it hosts seaside MAY/JUNE Arlington museum 422 4064; TURN bustling Saturday with soca, and (00 246 a heritage music, Trust Mon-Sat; Friday best party, and National island’s pop and country fish St; 9am-5pm Queen reggae, selling barbecued It’s roughly US$13). vendors rum drinking.per cent 20 of plenty cent locals, till 2am. 80 per and rocks tourists,

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Although July is the wettest month, cane harvest it is also sugartime, when the island festival, the holds its biggest three-week Crop-Over. have perfect March and weather; avoid April Christmas peak prices.

WHEN TO

GO

Amid the tropical scenery of a colonial of Barbados past: vast are survivors plantation fields, rum homes, sugar-cane producers and period there are townships. the beaches. The Atlantic-battered And then coast is legendary east among surfers, of the west while the play home beaches to millionaires and movie stars.

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Malmö, Sweden

Bristol, England

Eat & drink

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Eat & drink

MINI GUIDE May/June 2011

Bohol, Philippines

LEFT Kobe Ohashi Bridge RIGHT Excellent sake in Nada-ku district

Eat & drink

BEST FOR CITY VIEW 1 Take the Shin-Kobe cable car Kintoki 6 is an atmospheric (Shin-Kobe Ropeway; old Fold 1 one shokudo that serves return US$6.70/US$12) way/ the behind the food in the city. Order cheapest Crowne Plaza Kobe standard hotel near noodle Shin and rice dishes from Kobe Station to a the mountain ridge menu or choose from 400 metres above a the city where dishes on the counter variety of spectacular views (81 78 331 of Kobe and its 1037; 1-7-2 Motomachi-dori, bay awaits. BEST FOR VIEW 1 Chuo-ku; 10.30am-9pm, The spectacular The icon of Bohol, the Chocolate night view of Sat ; meals from US$6). to 8pm Kobe Harbourland BEST FOR ART 2 Hills get their name from the For good sushi, try Enjoy a hot bowl Kobe City Museum lawn-like that roasts to Ganko of ramenvegetation has at Sushi, 7 the causal Kintoki restaurant BEST FOR SAKE 4 of namban (southern a collection chocolate brown in the dry season restaurant barbarian) art. near Motomachi Station. Within Nada-ku district The paintings were (December to May). This sea of 1268 The à la developed is the Mon 9 is a fabulous carte menu offers Hakutsuru under a the place wide grassy humps Sake are influence thata result of the Brewery of early Jesuit serves yoshoku: Museum. sushi that will stimulate array of Learn traditional sake-making Japanese missionaries in Japan versions deposits, of coral-reef your taste (81 78 391 of Western fooduplifting buds. Last order is methods and ask like steaks 0035; Kobe Shiritsu at 10.30pm (81 and and weathering. From the for a free sake Hakubutsukan; pork cutlets. It iserosion 78 331 6868; 2-5-1 tasting after touring perfect forHills 24 Kyo-machi, Chuo-ku; Kitanagasa-dori, people Chocolate Complex, take fun the who prefer something 10am-5pm, Chuo-ku; 11.30am-11pm; (81 78 822 8907; 4-5-5 facilities closed on Mon; from other thanor hike up the hills. lunch tours Sumiyoshi US$2.40). noodles and ricemotorbike from US$8.50, Minami-machi, (81 dinner 78 from US$24). Higashinada-ku; 2-12-2 Ikatsuji, Chuo-ku;311 0372; If you fancy seared 9.30am-4.30am, closed 11amsashimi, BEST FOR CHURCH 2 on Mon, 9pm, closed on 3rd skewers of chicken New Year & O-Bon; and of oldest the church buildings in OneMon of the free). month; meals from nibbles, Tanoshiya 8 assorted US$13). the is the place Baclayon Church Located at thePhilippines, for you. This casual third floor of the spot serves in 1717. Behind this Avenue shoppingwas constructed creative and fun centre at the dishes that might coral-stone church’s aged facade is a base of the Crowne be termed ‘nouvelle Plaza Kobe Japonaise’ (81 interior of exquisitely carved hotel, Wakkoqu,lavish 78 242 1132; 1F Matsuda 10 serves upnave the paintings, gilded altars, best steak in Japan. 3-14-8 Kanocho, Chuo-ku;Bldg, (81 78 262 dichromatic 2838; 3F Shin Kobe tiled floor and stained 11.30am-2.30pm, Oriental Ave 5pm-midnight, shopping mall, 1-1glass windows. closed on Mon; lunch/dinner Kitano-cho, from Chuo-ku; 11.45am-10.30pm; US$13/48). dinner from US$39/99). BEST FORlunch/ PRIMATES 3 Get up close to the smallest living TURN OVER FOR primate, the tarsier, at the Tarsier MAP AND NUMBER LOCATIONSResearch & Development Centre. The visitors centre has information boards and audiovisual displays, a MAY/JUNE 2011 breeding program, 103 wildlife sanctuary and hiking trails (63 912 5163375; tarsierfoundation.org; 8am-4pm; requested donation US$0.60).

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The lavish interior of the Baclayon Church

BEST FOR DIVING 4 One of the premier diving spots in the Philippines, Balicasag is ringed by a pristine reef that has been declared a marine sanctuary. It drops away to impressive submarine cliffs as deep as 50m. Soft and hard corals can be found around the cliffs, as can trevally, barracuda, wrasse and the occasional white-tip shark. BEST FOR NATURE 5 Rajah Sikatuna National Park is an immense 9,000 ha of native molave forest and grasslands, kilometres of haphazardly marked trails, more than 100 caves, an abundance of wildlife such as lemurs and civet cats and a camping area (admission US$2.30).

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WHEN TO GO

Eat & drink

Brunei

Eat & drink

Associated with Jo’s Chicken Inato chain, Payag 6 restaurant is in a lovingly renovated Spanish-era home with a few quirky additions, such as wall-mounted tropical fish tanks. Everything on the menu is great, but the sizzling gambas are to-die-for (6338 411 2527; 18 Carlos P. Garcia, East Avenue, Tagbilaran; meals US$1.40-US$3.50). A block north of La Roca on Graham Ave, look for the small sign on your left that says Caingit Fish Grill. 7 Follow the steps down to a platform out on the water, where you choose fresh seafood from the display and tell the chef how you want it cooked (6338) 411 4949; 10 Caingit Drive, Caingit Beach near Graham Road, Tagbilaran; 5-11pm; mains US$4.20). A popular meeting place for foreigners and local expats. Helmut’s Place 8 serves mostly German food, but the emphasis in this friendly restro-bar is on drinking. Cocktails are dangerously cheap at US$3.50 (63 908 774 2741; Alona Beach).

LEFT The stately Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque. RIGHT Catch sight of the proboscis monkey, or

long-nosed monkey, in Brunei’s teeming wilderness.

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BEST FOR CULTURE 1 Visit Kampong Ayer, or the “Water Village” – a collection of over 28 villages of wooden buildings built on stilts over the Brunei River. The onsite Kampong Ayer Cultural

Hang out and chill and with cheap Tourism Gallery tells the cocktails athistory Helmut’sofPlace the village. Hop onto

a water taxi from the steps near the

The royal chariot

on display at the 9 is Garden Cafe a cowboyYayasan Building to visit the village. Royal Regalia Museum themed restaurant that employs FOR–VIEW deaf waiters.BEST The menu which 2 BEST FOR SHOPPING 4 One of Brunei’s includes a beginner’s most guide to signspectacular In the heart of the Muara district is Omar Ali Saifuddien language – ismosques chock-fullisof yankee the Gadong Night Market, a Mosque. Named after the current fare, from friend favourite night-time hangout spot chicken to onion Sultan’s late father, it has a lagoon for locals. The market has an rings and burgers (6338 411 3701; with a replica of a 16th century royal abundance of stalls stocking local JS Torralba Street; 6.30am-10.30pm; barge, domes food, produce and spices, clothes, meals US$1.40-US$3.50). of gold, and floors of marble (673 222 2623; Along Jalan accessories and much more Alona Palm Beach 8amResort & McArthur; 12nn, 2pm- 3pm, (Along Jalan Lebuhraya Sultan Haji Restaurant 10 European 5- serves 6pm, 8-9pm Sat to Wed; free). Hassanal Bolkiah; open from 6pm). cuisine. Oenologists will love the wine list, and hedonists theHISTORY 3 BEST FOR BEST FOR NATURE 5 luxurious infinity Thepool’s bar. A splendour of Brunei’s The 50,000-ha pomp and Ulu Temburong royal family minimum consumption feeisfor non best seen at the National Park is home to some Regalia hotel guests ofRoyal US$9.30 appliesMuseum. Exhibits diverse ecosystems – from include the royal chariot used (6338 502 9141;here alonapalmbeach. lowland forests, to jungles, to in His Majesty’s coronation in 1968, com; Alona Beach). mountain forests. Take the sunrise

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MINI GUIDE May/June 2011

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Kobe, Japan

Bohol is an island province of the Philippines located in the Central Visayas region, consisting of Bohol Island and 75 minor surrounding islands, and offering plenty of beaches, wildlife and history.

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MINI GUIDE May/Jun 2011

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Barbados

WHY GO?

11 2:46

HOW TO GO

May/June 2011

HOW TO GO

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are survivors sugar-cane of Barbados homes, And then GO? scenery WHYthe tropical vast plantationtownships. east period past: Amid and the beaches colonial Atlantic-battered while movie stars. of a producers The rum beaches. and surfers, fields, among are the to millionaires there legendary is home play coast sugarwest it is alsobiggest of the its month, TO GO wettest island holds and April March prices. WHEN July is thewhen the peak time, Crop-Over. Although Christmas harvest cane avoid the three-week weather; festival, perfect have Airport TO GO To get HOW Adams internationalF. Bridgetown. John Grantley from and York’s miles New is 10 Airport fly to either there, International with or Kennedyto Barbados (aa.com) connect Airlines (jetblue.com).

American Airways JetBlue

Atlantic Bathsheba’s dream. as LEFT is a surfers’once used beach The conch, by fishermen

RIGHT a horn

LEFT Bathsheba’s Atlantic beach is a surfers’ dream. RIGHT The conch, once used as a horn by fishermen

Although July is the wettest month, it isEatalso sugarcane harvest time, whenSeethe island holds its biggest festival, the three-week Crop-Over. March and April have perfect weather; avoid Christmas peak prices.

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Grantley Adams international is 10 miles from Bridgetown. Airport there, fly to To get New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and connect to Barbados with either American Airlines JetBlue Airways (aa.com) or (jetblue.com).

MINI GUIDE

2

is held in August and Grantley Adams international Airport Bristol’s attractions includes music, dance and food stalls, with a crayfish can be enjoyed all year round. Popular is 10 miles from Bridgetown. To get party to kick things off events include the (malmofestivalen.se). Harbour Festival (31 July-1 August there, fly to New York’s John F. 2010) and the Balloon Fiesta (12-15 August HOW TO GO Kennedy International Airport and 2010). MINI GUIDE May/Jun 2011 Although Malmö does have connect to Barbados with either HOW TO GO an airport, international flights are limited. A better American Airlines (aa.com) or Fly to London Heathrow option is to fly to Copenhagen, direct from from JetBlue Airways (jetblue.com). Singapore Singapore with British Airways via Singapore Airlines (singaporeair. (britishairways.com) com). Malmö is a 35-minutes , Qantas train LEFT Bathsheba’s Atlantic (qantas.com) or ride from Copenhagen Singapore Airlines beach is a surfers’ dream. airport (singaporeair.com), across the impressive five-mileRIGHT The conch, once used as and from Kuala a horn by fishermen Lumpur with Malaysia long Öresund bridge (US$15; Airlines (malaysiaairline.com skanetrafiken.se). ). From London, National Rail runs several LEFT The Öresund bridge. trains per hour to Bristol, the RIGHT Stock up on fastest of which liquorice, which is dead Fold 1 BEST FOR PLANTATIONS 1 takes one hour On the Speightstown waterfront, popular in Sweden and ten minutes St Nicholas Abbey is one of the the Fisherman’s Pub 6 is a local (nationalrail.co.uk). oldest plantation houses in institution that serves up fish from the Caribbean. The grounds are LEFT The impressive the boats floating off the back Clifton Suspension simply gorgeous and the rum and RIGHT Its designer, Bridge. deck, with steel-pan music on Isambard Kingdom BEST FOR HISTORY 1 Brunel sugar museum houses historical Wednesdays. Try the national dish Since 1888, the Malmö The moated, red-brick Malmöhus Fold 1 artefacts, including slave records of cou-cou (cornmeal and okra) Chokladfabrik 6 has imported Slott is an intriguing mix of Gothic and ledgers (00 246 422 8725; and flyingFold Belgian tradition, creating unusual fish2(00 246 422 2703; castle and 1930s functionalist BEST FOR VIEWS 1 stnicholasabbey.com; Cherry Tree cocoa Queen buildings. concoctions St; lunch The Mon-Sat, village It houses of such dinner Oistins is as famous the pear for bulk of The 76m-high Clifton Find fancy Hill, St Peter; 10am-3.30pm; US$15). and cognac praline (00 46 well as local the cocktails its weekend fish fry parties Malmö as daily; mains US$5-US$8). Museer, Suspension a gathering 40 459 Pieminister 6 drags and Creole Bridge spans the dishes at Brown Sugar 505; malmochokladfabrik.se; of museums David’s Place 7 is a very gorge of the on art, history, the Fold 1 pie into the 21st century. British River Avon by the Möllevångsgatan 36; 12pm-6pm BEST FOR HISTORY 2 handicrafts and aquatic life romantic spot overlooking St BEST FOR BEACHES 4 hilltop Try the (00 46 Fold 2 9 , in bustling Ragamuffins chicken of aragon weekdays, Clifton. Its construction suburb of 40 344 400; The George Washington House was 10am-2pm Sat). malmo.se/museer; pie, with smoked Lawrence Bay. Waiters glide about Few people follow the coast south was begun Holetown, specialises in Caribbean bacon, vermouth Lilla Torg 7 square offers Malmöhusvägen; by Brunel in 1831, the home of the US president and daily; US$5.70). At 190m high, the Twisting WHYplatters a and tarragon with seafood of Bathsheba. They should. Look but was only GO?and Creole Torso trio of bars that rate highly dishes with attitude: the blackened (01179 429372; pieminister.co.uk; completed after his is Sweden’s tallest building his brother Lawrence during their for Try the seasonal dishes curries One for signs for Martin’s Bay, where (00 of 246Japan’s death. Walk 435 9755; at organic sheer atmosphere. Victors, 24 most attractivefish with BEST aioli is FOR Stokes Croft; 11am-7pm, pureDESIGN across joy. On 2 restaurant stay in 1751. It now houses a the Salt cities, Kobe bridge, och Brygga davidsplacebarbados.com; you’ll find a sliver of beach and a or view it from between a beautifulSt to 5pm is wedged Moosehead and Mello Yello against SundaySet there’s half-timbered Sun; pies US$4.90). a drag the grassy parks show (00 are all museum bringing 18th-century harbour and BEST FOR SHOPPING 4 Lawrence of Clifton and little rum shop. After about two Gap; dinner Tue-Sun; great spots with affable service 16th-century mountain Rokko 246picturesque buildings, Form/ 4321295; ragamuffins range. Famed for Bristol’s legendary Barbados to life (00 246 228 5461; clearDurdham The streets surrounding conscience. Downs mains US$16-US$24) Everything more miles, a steep road leads (clifton- is its eponymous cider boat and alfresco seating (victors.se, Designcuts St Nicholas Market Center showcases barbados.com; and the Arima Onsens, 1st Street, of beef suspension-bridge.org.u Fold 2 The Apple 7 stocks organic, is home to georgewashingtonbarbados.org; Davidshallstorg are the current even the staff’s uniforms. moosehead.se, melloyello.se; The popular down to Bath Beach, empty on 40 varieties of cutting-edge design, architecture a host of independent Roundhouse the city Holetown; k). attracts dinner; mains not the golden elixir, specialising but a sizeable Flavours are fresh and seasonal retailers centre for emerging designers Bush Hill, Garrison; 9am-4.30pm most bars open to 1am). 8 overlooks expatriate Restaurant and art.only weekdays and crowded with Bagtravellers Bristol-born Pieminister yourself the community US$23-US$24). – tryBEST organic and craft-produced in and vintage threads. Tjallamalla rhubarb as it has consistentlysome brings Mon-Fri; US$9.70). been ranked FORsoup with lemon Ystad’s best restaurant, Store DESIGN contemporary back a British classic world-famous 2 laughing families on weekends. reefone Scandinavian break ofknown drinks. as places the best verbena The with style much-loved (a branch of the legendary There’s also a menu (00SS Brown Sugar crafts BEST FOR TREASURES 46Great Brunel’s 40 611 5940; toin Thor 8 occupies the old town live theingallery Japan. Soup Bowl. There’s banana bread shop (00 46 40 664 Britain, launched featuring 4 10 is a tropical paradise. saltobrygga.se; Stockholm store) purveys cult ploughman’s lunches Housed in a lovely The West in 1843 as theSundspromenaden hall. Nibble on tapas, grilled BEST FOR BARBEQUE 3 5150; formdesigncenter.com; first transatlantic at breakfast, sandwiches and BEST FOR CULTURE 5 Edwardian with brie and Lilla 7, Västra labels such as Whyszeck and Hamnen; closed Indian Torg buffet9;isclosed uses organic, seasonal WHAT ISand popularMon; manchego cheese meats and dishes such as building, the Bristol and free). steamship Sun; The heart of Oistins is its large, to be driven by THERE salads at lunch, Speightstown, with its battered (01179 253500; City Museum and specials such mains US$24-US$39). TO DO? Lund+Berg (tjallamalla.com; the Bajan bread pudding is a cognac raw-spiced salmon regionally sourced applecider.co.uk; WHY & Art Gallery has a screw propeller, GO? Splurge bustling seaside fish market. On onsoup the exquisitely as Welsh Back; ingredients. breadfruit an excellent façades and local characters, now ‘floats’ If you want to impress, at dinner (00marbledrummyBEST Davidshallsgatan 15). WHY (00 46GO? book delight 411 18510; storethor.se; (00 246 12pm-12am, collection of British FOR 4267684; and very Found ARCHITECTURE wildSea, a glass sea in an Friday and Saturday it hosts the just off the black bream with 3 Kobe expensive untilcoast of Sun; the SouthEnjoy 246 a on 10.30pm 433beef; China combines old colonial charm with candlelit 9678;head and French roundhouse airtight table in the to the Nada ward,brownsugarbarbados.com; Rådhuskällaren, dry vaulted The harbour development A short ferry rideStortorget, from industrialised artichoke or roast US$8.10-US$15). Cebu,with the art, and wings for dock, Bay island’s best party, with soca, Ystad; Brunei for brewery at is famous for being an oil and itslush cellar museum visitsStand rooms restored BEST FOR A DAY TRIP 5 barbados.com; pheasant at Årstiderna a down-to-earth vibe. Drop in to archaeology, 10 . It serves tours, natural gas-rich Joseph, lunch and dinner in Street,Västra Hamnen, Bridgetown; sake Mon-Fri, with half lunch geology island dinner Sun-Fri, Typifying province impeccable sampling. a spelt of mile Bohol offers reggae, pop and country music, independent traveller risotto and creations theas A 50-minute train ride from Hike up Mount Rokko as well natural history (01179 nation, detail new (01179 431200; Bathsheba; such being Arlington House, which is home to as cognac-infused breakfast, lunch a unique Malay Islamic Bristol, (01179 260680; get Sat; mains US$18-US$31). an expansive MonMalmöhus daily; lunch of to bordeaux-quay.co.uk; Severnshed 8 is buffet view of the entiredinnernorthwest 223571; bristol.gov.uk; US$20, Slott, is ssgreatbritain.org; vendors selling barbecued fish and lobster a wealth Malmö, Ystad is a small port of options both on and off the soup with shellfish archy. beaten and dinner; mains US$16-US$24). But the country a heritage museum run by the a designer V-Shed, Osaka Great Western Overlooking spring has much home Queen’s Bay. to the landmark Turning the Öresund to offer guests, bar, more mains US$16-US$32). Canons bistro and café in Road; 10am-5pm; Dockyard; roll plenty of rum drinking. It’s roughly town sprinkled with half-timbered track. (00 46 open Way; lunch and dinner, 230 910;US$19). bridge, Thethe island’s arstiderna. a former from age-old National Trust (00 246 422 4064; short-lived daily; free). independence Torso – Sweden’s largest at40the Slow Food tribal traditions to unspoiled movementnature. closed Mon boathouse designed se; Frans Suellsgatan 3; lunch houses from the 17th and 80 per cent locals, 20 per cent and Sat lunch; WHEN TO GO? skyscraper, which twists 90 Queen St; 9am-5pm Mon-Sat; and Salt och 18th by Brunel. The turnaffiliated of the 19th 9 Brygga century resulted in today’s dinnerFOR restaurant mains centuries. Fans of writer Henning food is a fusion of Mon-Fri, BEST tourists, and rocks till 2am. dinner Sat; mains BEST FOR HISTORY 5 presents Swedish cuisine with degrees from TURN OVER FOR BROWSING US$13). flavours – try the Kobe MAP bottom 3 AND NUMBER enjoys to WHAT a top. LOCATIONS successors of You the republic becoming THERE a US$29-US$42). pleasant Mankell know it as the setting TO DO? A smart pub in US$21-US$32). spicy ThaiIS The Georgian House The climate throughout lively St Nicholas can admire it while strolling monkfish (01179 a grade II-listed provides Market has though some might the year, 251212; The for his Inspector Wallander country’s capital fierce protectors of Bohol’s distinctive coaching inn, Bandar shedrestaurants.co.uk; an atmospheric illustration Seri Begawan food stalls selling around prefer is The home the seafront. to 10 Albion everything from The Grove; of crime thrillers (ystad.se). Spring for cherry-blossom to head there during the a 12pm-12am, contrast of old (fishing TURN servesover OVER FOR MAP AND NUMBER aristocratic life in artisan bread to hearty cultural heritage. modern theBritish river)cuisine until 2am Fri andvillages built MAY/JUNE 2011 Bristol during viewings LOCATIONS sausage 109 and Sat; in Autumn when and new mains short walk Travel this era – and also (lavish, luxurious sandwiches. Look US$15-US$24). holidaya resorts). from the suspension the foliage of Mount the city’s links out for the bridge (01179 733522; to the slave trade further Rokko changes Friendly farmers’ market on afield and you will9 find yourself Bordeaux surroundedthealbion hues. Otherwise, – in a house WHAT IS THERE TO DO? MAY/JUNE by Wednesdays Quay has clifton.co.uk; head a restaurant, that once belonged 2011 (stnicholasmarketbristo the abundant there in December, greenery Boyces brasserie, and indigenous 107 wildlife to a bar, deli, ofAvenue; l.co.uk; Apart from Bohol’s central attractions when Luminarie, lunch Tue-Sun, dinner bakery and Indies merchant (01179 West Corn Street; Borneo island. cookery school, and MINI Kobe’s annual light 9.30am-5pm GUIDE May/June bristol.gov.uk; Tue-Sat; 211362; of the Chocolate Hills (left) and tarsier festival, dinner mains US$26-US$36). and selected Sundays). Mon-Sat 2011 7 Great George around 4 to 15 December. is held from monkey (right), it’s the jungle interior, Street; Sat-Wed 10am-5pm; WHEN TOFOR GO? TURN OVER free). MAP AND NUMBER rice terraces and offshore islands Brunei has a year-round LOCATIONSof 23°C average temperature which truly captivates travellers. to 33°C. There is no distinct rainy season, but there Bohol’s towns are also home to some tends to be more rain between the months of October MAY/JUNE 2011 of the country’s best-preserved Spanish to January. 105 churches. Amid the tropical scenery of a colonial of Barbados past: are survivors Fold vast 2 plantation fields, rum homes, sugar-cane producers and period there are townships. the beaches. The Atlantic-battered And then coast is legendary among surfers, east of the west while the play home WHY beaches to millionaires GO? Amid and

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Although

Although survivors rum producers July is are there the the and period homes, sugar-cane wettest cane harvest month, beaches. coast TheitAtlantic-battered is alsotownships. time, is legendary And then when theamong sugarfestival, the of the west island holds east surfers, three-week play home itswhile biggest the beaches Crop-Over. to millionaires have perfect March and and movie weather; WHEN April avoid Christmas TO GO stars.

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os Barbad

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BEST FOR PLANTATIONS 1 St Nicholas Abbey oldest plantation is one of the On the Speightstown the Caribbean. houses in waterfront, the Fisherman’s The simply gorgeous grounds are Pub 6 is a institution that local sugar museum and the rum and serves up fish the boats floating houses historical from artefacts, including off the back deck, with steel-pan slave records and ledgers music on (00 246 422 Wednesdays. 8725; stnicholasabbey.com; Try the national of cou-cou (cornmeal dish Cherry Hill, St Peter; and okra) 10am-3.30pm; Tree and flying fish The village of Oistins is US$15). (00 famous for its weekend Queen St; lunch 246 422 2703; fish fry parties BEST FOR Mon-Sat, dinner HISTORY 2 daily; mains US$5-US$8). The George Find fancy Washington BEST FOR David’s Place cocktails as House BEACHES 4 the home of 7 is well and Creole a very Few people the US president was romantic spot dishes at Brownas local follow the coast his brother Lawrence overlooking and Sugar of Bathsheba. south St Lawrence Bay. during their They should. stay in 1751. Waiters glide Ragamuffins 9 for signs for Look It now with seafood about , in bustling Martin’s Bay, museum bringing houses a platters and Holetown, specialises where you’ll find a Creole curries (00 246 18th-century sliver in Caribbean Barbados to 435 9755; dishes with little rum shop. of beach and a life (00 246 228 davidsplacebarbados.com; attitude: the georgewashingtonbarbados.org; After about blackened 5461; fish with aioli two more miles, Lawrence Gap; St is a steep road Bush Hill, Garrison; Sunday there’s pure joy. On dinner leads down to Bath mains US$16-US$24) Tue-Sun; a drag show Beach, empty Mon-Fri; US$9.70). 9am-4.30pm 246 4321295; (00 weekdays and on ragamuffins The popular crowded with Roundhouse barbados.com; laughing families Restaurant 8 1st on weekends. Holetown; dinner; Street, world-famous overlooks the mains reef break known US$23-US$24). BEST FOR Soup Bowl. as CULTURE 5 There’s banana The much-loved Speightstown, at breakfast, bread Brown Sugar 10 is with its battered sandwiches a tropical paradise. façades and and salads at lunch, local characters, The West Indian buffet and specials combines old as breadfruit is popular and colonial charm soup at dinner such the Bajan bread a down-to-earth 246 433 9678; with (00 roundhouse rummy delight pudding is a Arlington House, vibe. Drop in to barbados.com; (00 246 4267684; which is home St Joseph, brownsugarbarbados.com; a heritage museum Bathsheba; to breakfast, lunch Street, Bridgetown; Bay run by the National Trust and dinner; lunch Sun-Fri, (00 246 422 mains US$16-US$24). dinner daily; 4064; Queen St; 9am-5pm lunch buffet US$20, mains US$16-US$32). Mon-Sat; US$13).

BEST FOR BARBEQUE 3 The heart of Oistins is its large, bustling seaside fish market. Friday and Saturday On it hosts the island’s best party, with soca, reggae, pop and vendors selling country music, barbecued fish plenty of rum and drinking. It’s roughly 80 per cent locals, 20 per cent tourists, and rocks till 2am.

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used as

peak prices. July is the HOW cane wettest harvest TO GO month,

BEST FOR HOT SPRING 5 The hot springs of Arima are filled with minerals Onsen and natural ingredients known for its medical treatment. There are two public bath houses in Arima Osen couple more surrounding and a hot spring baths (81 78 904 arima-onsen.com/eng; 0708; 790-3 Arima-cho Kita-ku, Kobe City).

1

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drink

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BEST FOR ARCHITECTURE 3 The Meriken Park is dotted modern art installations. with See its iconic contemporary architecture and visit the Kobe Maritime Museum, where a small collection of ship models and displays with English explanations can (81 78 327 8983; Kobe be found Kaiyo Hakubutsukan; 2-2 Hatoba-cho, Chuo-ku; 10am-5pm; closed on Mon; US$6).

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WHY GO?

MAY/JUNE

Amid the tropical scenery of Barbados are survivors of a colonial past: vast plantation homes, sugar-cane fields, rum producers and period townships. And then there are the beaches. The Atlantic-battered east coast is legendary among surfers, while the beaches 2011 of the west play home to millionaires May/June and movie stars. GUIDE MINI

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2011

LOCATIONS

is the Bajan breadpopular and rummy delight pudding is a (00 246 4267684; brownsugarbarbados.com; 109 Street, Bridgetown; Bay lunch Sun-Fri, dinner daily; lunch buffet US$20, mains US$16-US$32).

drink

it is also festival, when Grantley sugarthree-week the island holds Adamsthe have international its biggest Crop-Over. is 10 miles perfect weather; Airport March and from Bridgetown. avoid Christmas April there,HOW peak prices. To get fly to New TO

MINI GUIDE May/June 2011

AND NUMBER

by fishermen

GO John York’s Grantley Kennedy F. Adams international is 10 International miles from Airport connect and Airport Bridgetown. there, tofly Barbados to New with To get York’s American either Kennedy John F. Airlines International (aa.com)Airport connect JetBlue or to Barbados and Airways American with either (jetblue.com). Airlines (aa.com) JetBlue Airways or (jetblue.com). LEFT Bathsheba’s Atlantic beach LEFTis Bathsheba’s a surfers’ dream. Atlantic beach is RIGHT The aconch, surfers’ dream. The conch,once used as aaRIGHT horn once hornby fishermen

2011

May/June 2011

the tropical movie stars. WHEN TO scenery of a colonial of Barbados GO past: vast fields, are plantation

GO

Amid the tropical scenery of a colonial of Barbados past: vast are survivors plantation fields, rum homes, sugar-cane producers and period there are townships. the beaches. The Atlantic-battered And then coast is legendary among surfers, east of the west while the play home beaches to millionaires and movie stars.

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WHEN TO

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FOR MAP

such breadfruit soup at dinner 246 433 9678; MAY/JUNE (00 roundhouse 2011 barbados.com; St Joseph, Bathsheba; breakfast, lunch and dinner; mains US$16-US$24).

Eat & drink Eat &

Barbados

MINI GUIDE May/June

Although July is the wettest month, cane harvest it is also sugartime, when the island festival, the holds its biggest three-week Crop-Over. have perfect March and weather; April avoid Christmas peak prices.

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old colonial charm with a down-to-earth Arlington House, vibe. Drop in to which is home a heritage museum to run by the National Trust (00 246 422 4064; Queen St; 9am-5pm Mon-Sat; US$13).

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MINI GUIDE

HOW TO GO

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with soca, reggae, pop and vendors selling country music, plenty of rum barbecued fish and drinking. It’s roughly 80 per cent locals, 20 per cent tourists, and rocks till 2am.

BEST FOR St Nicholas PLANTATIONS 1 BEST FOR Abbey is oldest one of the PLANTATIONS plantation houses in 1 theSt Nicholas Abbey Caribbean. On the Speightstown The grounds is one are simply of the oldest gorgeous plantation the Fisherman’s waterfront, and houses sugar museum the rum and On the Speightstown in Pub 6 is the Caribbean. institution houses artefacts, a local that serves waterfront, including The historical Fisherman’s the the up fish from boats simply slavegrounds and ledgers floating off Pub records are gorgeous 6 is (00 deck, the back institution 246 422 and a local with steel-pan stnicholasabbey.com; the rum and 8725; sugar Wednesdays. that serves musicup Hill, St Peter;museum houses on Cherry Tree the boatsTry the national fish from artefacts, floating of cou-cou 10am-3.30pm; historical The village including slave dish (cornmeal off the back US$15). deck, with and flying and okra) records its weekendof Oistins is famous and ledgers BEST FOR steel-pan fish (00 246 422 music fish fry parties for (00 246 HISTORY Queen Wednesdays. 2703; on 422 8725; The George St; lunch 2 stnicholasabbey.com; Mon-Sat, Try the national Washington daily; mains the home BEST FOR of cou-cou House was US$5-US$8). dinner dish ofSt BEACHES Hill, the (cornmeal and David’s Tree US president Cherry Peter; his brother Few people Find fancy 4 Place 7 10am-3.30pm; The follow okra) and and flying and cocktails village of romantic very the as well as fish is stay in 1751.Lawrence during of Bathsheba. US$15). Oistins Creole dishes spot overlooking coast famous (00a 246 local It now houses their They should. issouth at Brown Queen forLawrence St 422 2703; museum BEST for signs its weekend Bay. St; lunch Sugar a for Martin’s fish fry Look bringing parties with seafood Waiters Mon-Sat, FOR glide 18th-century HISTORY Barbados you’ll find aboutdinner Ragamuffins Bay, where daily; platters 2 mains US$5-US$8). to life 9 , in a sliver of curries (00 The and Creole Holetown, (00 246 228 George bustling georgewashingtonbarbados.org; little rum BEST beach and 246 435 9755; Washington specialises Find 5461; shop. After a fancy cocktails David’s davidsplacebarbados.com; FORabout dishes with in Caribbean House BEACHES Bush Hill, the home more Place 7 is wasmiles, as well as two 4 Garrison; of the US andattitude: the a steep Lawrenceromantic Few local people 9am-4.30pm Mon-Fri; St a very fish with aioli Creole presidentdown road dishesblackened Gap; dinner leads follow spotTue-Sun; his brother at Brown Sugar US$9.70). and to Bath overlooking the coast south mains US$16-US$24) Sunday there’sis pure joy. On Lawrence during weekdays of Beach, empty on Lawrence Bay. St 246 a drag show andBathsheba. crowded They should. The popular their Waiters 4321295; BEST FOR stay in 1751. It now laughing Ragamuffins (00 with for signs Look families with Roundhouse BARBEQUE Restaurant houses a barbados.com;ragamuffins 9 , in bustling seafood platters glide about for Martin’s on weekends. The heart museum 8 overlooks 3 Bay, where bringing of Oistins 1st Street, and Creole world-famous Holetown; Holetown, curries specialises the BEST FOR you’ll find a sliver bustling seaside is its large, 18th-century dinner; mains Barbados reef (00 246known of beach and break CULTURE Soup Bowl. 435 9755; dishes US$23-US$24). fish market. to life (00 246 Speightstown, Friday and little with attitude: in Caribbean 5 davidsplacebarbados.com; There’s rum shop. a On 228 banana breadas georgewashingtonbarbados.org; with its battered the blackened 5461; After about at breakfast, The much-loved island’s bestSaturday façades fish with aioli it hosts the sandwiches morecharacters, two and local Lawrence St 10 is salads miles, a steep is pure Brown and at lunch, a tropical reggae, pop party, combines Bushwith Gap; joy. On Sugar Hill, soca, dinner Tue-Sun; road leads and specials paradise. old down Garrison; 9am-4.30pm and country as breadfruit mains colonial Indian buffet Sunday there’s TheaWest vendors selling a down-to-earth to charm such Bath with drag show music, Mon-Fri; is popular 246 433 9678;soup atUS$16-US$24) 246 dinner the Bajan barbecued empty (00 US$9.70). vibe. Drop Beach, 4321295; and plenty of Arlington weekdays on bread pudding The popular (00 fish and in crowded ragamuffins rum drinking. House, to barbados.com;roundhouse rummy delight which is and Roundhouse 80 per cent a heritage is a barbados.com; It’s roughly with home to laughing St Joseph, (00 246 museum Restaurant Bathsheba; 1st Street, families 20 per cent tourists, and locals, National Trust run by 8 overlooks brownsugarbarbados.com; BEST the on weekends. Holetown;4267684; FOR BARBEQUE and dinner; breakfast, rocks till 2am. (00 246 Street, lunch the Bridgetown; world-famous dinner; Queen Bay 3 mains St; 9am-5pm 422 4064; The heart of US$16-US$24). reef break dinner US$23-US$24). lunch Sun-Fri,mains US$13). Mon-Sat; Oistins is its BEST knowndaily; Soup Bowl. FOR CULTURE as lunch buffet US$20, large, mains US$16-US$32). bustling seaside There’s banana 5 The much-loved Speightstown, fish market. bread TURN OVER at breakfast, Brown Sugar Friday and Saturday with its battered 10 is On FOR MAP sandwiches a tropical paradise. façades and and salads at lunch, AND NUMBER it hosts the local characters, island’s best The West and specialsLOCATIONS Indian buffet party, combines as

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Grantley Adams international is 10 miles from Bridgetown. Airport there, fly To get to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and connect to Barbados with either American Airlines JetBlue Airways (aa.com) or (jetblue.com).

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LEFT Bathsheba’s Atlantic beach is a surfers’ dream. RIGHT The conch, once used as a horn by fishermen

MINI GUIDE

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A new restaurant in the Kiarong area, Nur Wanita 6 serves authentic dishes from Northern Thailand. It is popular during lunch when nearby office monkeys swing by to transport their taste buds (673 242 6789; Unit 10 Block B, Kiarong Complex; lunch and dinner; dishes US$3.10-US$7.90). The wide-ranging menu and bistro-style air-con chic accentuate the appeal of the popular Nyonya Restaurant 7 . As well as steak, soup, sandwiches, and Indian, Chinese and Malay dishes, there’s a good selection of pasta (673 223 1467; Jalan MacArthur; lunch and dinner; mains US$5.40-US$15). Aminah Arif 8 is synonymous with ambuyat – Brunei’s national dish. If you’re up for trying a bowl of wiggly white goo, then this is the place. Aminah’s daughter has opened up her own restaurant next door, and uses the same family recipe (673 223 6198; Unit 2-1 Block B Rahman Building, Spg 88 Kiulap; breakfast, lunch and dinner; meal US$17).

Brunei’s national dish, the ambuyat, is an acquired taste

At Kianggeh Food Court, 9 , take in the sunset views over Kampung Ayer while devouring scrumptious local dishes like satay sticks and soto (noodle soup). Swing by in the morning for some roti canai (flaky flat bread) (Jalan Residency; breakfast, lunch and dinner; dishes US$1.60). Restoran Hijrah, 10 a kedai kopi (coffee shop) up the road from the Bangar boat wharf, offers a mix of Chinese and Malay flavours, including the region’s famous udang galah (river prawns) and steamboat meals (673 522 1522; Kedai 1; breakfast, lunch and dinner; dishes US$2-US$5.90).

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BEST FOR PLANTATIONS 1 St Nicholas Abbey oldest plantation is one of the On the Speightstown the Caribbean. houses in waterfront, The the Fisherman’s simply gorgeous grounds are Pub 6 is a institution that local sugar museum and the rum and serves up fish houses historical the boats floating from artefacts, including off the back deck, with steel-pan slave records and ledgers music on (00 246 422 Wednesdays. 8725; stnicholasabbey.com; Try the national of cou-cou dish Cherry Hill, St Peter; (cornmeal and 10am-3.30pm; Tree The village okra) and flying fish of Oistins US$15). (00 is famous its weekend Queen St; lunch 246 422 2703; for fish fry parties BEST FOR Mon-Sat, dinner HISTORY 2 daily; mains The George US$5-US$8). Washington BEST FOR Find fancy David’s Place cocktails as House BEACHES 4 the home of 7 is well and Creole the US president was a very Few people romantic spot dishes at Brownas local follow the coast his brother overlooking Sugar Lawrence during and of Bathsheba. south Lawrence Bay. St stay in 1751. They should. their Waiters glide Ragamuffins It now for signs for Look with seafood about 9 , in Martin’s Bay, museum bringing houses a bustling platters and Holetown, specialises where you’ll find a Creole curries (00 246 18th-century sliver Barbados to in Caribbean 435 9755; dishes with life (00 246 little rum shop. of beach and a davidsplacebarbados.com; attitude: the 228 5461; georgewashingtonbarbados.org; After about blackened fish with aioli more miles, two Lawrence Gap; St is a steep road Bush Hill, Garrison; dinner Tue-Sun; Sunday there’s pure joy. On leads down to Bath mains US$16-US$24) Mon-Fri; US$9.70). 9am-4.30pm Beach, empty 246 4321295; a drag show (00 weekdays and on The popular ragamuffins crowded with Roundhouse barbados.com; laughing families Restaurant 8 1st Street, on weekends. Holetown; dinner; world-famous overlooks the mains reef break known US$23-US$24). BEST FOR Soup Bowl. as CULTURE 5 There’s banana The much-loved Speightstown, at breakfast, bread Brown Sugar with its battered 10 is sandwiches a tropical paradise. façades and and salads at lunch, local characters, The West and specials Indian buffet combines old as breadfruit is popular and colonial charm soup at dinner such the Bajan bread a down-to-earth with 246 433 9678; (00 roundhouse rummy delight pudding is a Arlington House, vibe. Drop in to barbados.com; (00 246 4267684; which is home St Joseph, brownsugarbarbados.com; a heritage museum Bathsheba; to breakfast, lunch Street, Bridgetown; run by the Bay National Trust and dinner; lunch Sun-Fri, (00 246 422 mains US$16-US$24). dinner daily; 4064; Queen St; 9am-5pm lunch buffet US$20, mains US$16-US$32). Mon-Sat; US$13).

BEST FOR BARBEQUE 3 The heart of Oistins is its large, bustling seaside fish market. Friday and Saturday On it hosts island’s best party, with soca,the reggae, pop and vendors selling country music, plenty of rum barbecued fish and drinking. It’s roughly 80 per cent locals, 20 per cent tourists, and rocks till 2am.

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MINI GUIDE May/Jun 2011

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the Sultan’s crown, and a collection of His Majesty’s priceless gifts (673

canopy walk where you trek through jungle to reach a bridge suspended way above the foliage for a panoramic view of the park.

222 8358; Jalan Sultan; 9am-4.30pm TURN OVER FOR MAP AND NUMBER LOCATIONS Sat-Thu, 9-11.30am Fri; free).

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Lone y P ane Magaz ne p ov des us ed ndependen ave adv ce and n o ma on ha has been ga he ed w hou ea o avou We a m o p ov de you w h op ons ha cove a ange o budge s and we evea he pos ve and nega ve o a oca ons we v s Because we be eve s mpo an ha ou ou na s s expe ence fi s hand wha hey e w ng abou and because you equ e comp ehens ve n o ma on om eve y co ne o he wo d a mes may be necessa y o us o seek ass s ance om ave p ov de s such as ou s boa ds a nes ho e s na ona pa ks e c Howeve when ece v ng such ass s ance we ensu e ou ed o a n eg y and ndependence a e no comp om sed h ough he o ow ng measu es

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POSTCARDS WHERE YOU’VE BEEN AND WHAT YOU’VE SEEN

Once a sleepy riverside village, Hoi An is a town oozing charm and history, with friendly street-side hawkers selling everything from handicrafts to bananas.


Send your pictures and tell us the stories behind them: email lpmagazine@regentmedia.sg

POSTCARDS

Hoi An, Vietnam

I went toTibeat the end of a three week trip with my brother, travelling across China by train this summer. We took the train from Chengdu to Lhasa over two days, and after a short stay in Lhasa made the four hour drive to the shores of Lake Namtso. The lake itself was stunning, at 4,700 metres above sea level. The bright blue skies and dramatic snow-capped mountains completed the picture and made for some incredible scenery, justifying the importance Tibetan people place on this vast expanse of salt water. There were many yaks by the lake accompanied by their owners, and I managed to quickly catch this man as he moved into the perfect position for a photograph alongside the lake. Yaks are hugely significant in Tibet and are used by the Tibetan people for many things, so I liked the significance of the yak by the sacred lake; one of the most impressive places I have visited. Tibet was the highlight of my trip, it was a beautiful place and the people were so friendly. And if the altitude doesn’t take your breath away, the scenery certainly will.

Going Bananas

I was approached by these friendly ladies selling fruits, to take a photo of them, which they probably do to most tourists. After taking a photo, I felt obliged to buy something from them. They were determined to sell me some blackish, overripe bananas, even after I pointed to a fresher bunch of bananas. In the end, I bought the bananas but had to throw them away as they were inedible. However, the photo made it all worthwhile as I know that they still need to earn a living. By far, Hoi An has been the most beautiful place I’ve been to in Vietnam. It is far away from busy city-life and has a certain serenity and tranquility that I love. Hoi An is a place where I can relax and enjoy my walks in the ancient town and explore Vietnam’s rich national heritage. Ng Shi Han, a Singaporean, was on a 15-day backpacking trip around Vietnam in June 2011.

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

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POSTCARDS

Send your pictures and tell us the stories behind them: email lpmagazine@regentmedia.sg

Rift Valley Province, Kenya

The unveiling

Amboselli National Park is one of the many beautiful game reserves in Kenya, famous for its elephants and the amazing view of Mount Kilimajaro, although good weather and a fair bit of luck is necessary to be able to view the mountain in full. As we were leaving the park early one morning, the clouds started to drift away from the mountain and we had an opportune glimpse of the snowy mountain top. A lonely elephant walked in a distance, enjoying his breakfast. It was absolutely breathtaking; a view I could wake up to everyday. Rita Long Ahmad, from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was on a Safari in May 2011. At 5,895 metres, Mount Kilimajaro is the highest mountain in Africa

Cappadocia, Turkey

Up in the Air I arrived in Goreme at 6:30am and slowly wandered around the town to find my hotel. It was cold and the air was clear and crisp. I stared up to marvel at all the odd shaped towers. Some were tall and thin, some stripped and leaning off-kilter, others short and banded, and some looked like spooky medieval castles. They were littered around town, spread throughout the hillside and down into the valley below. I then looked up and noticed the balloons above me, drifting gracefully like they had escaped from a child’s hand. They glided silently over the town, and I stared until the cold morning air forced me to find my warm hotel. James Cruikshank was in Turkey in January 2011. 10

A hot air balloon ride is the best way to view Cappadocia’s surrealistic landscapes

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011


POSTCARDS

Send your pictures and tell us the stories behind them: email lpmagazine@regentmedia.sg


Send your pictures and tell us the stories behind them: email lpmagazine@regentmedia.sg

POSTCARDS

Sabah, Malaysia

A breathtaking hike Located on the island of Borneo, Mount Kinabalu peaks at 4,095 metres. It can be scaled in a two-day climb. Rising above the rain forests of the World Heritage Kinabalu Park, the mountain range is wind-swept and receives frequent tropical showers. Both the physical effort and the stunning views will take your breath away. Lee Meng Lai,from Kuala Lumpur, made his fifth climb up Mount Kinabalu in July 2011.

Mount Kinabalu and its National Park are among the most important biological sites in the world. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

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POSTCARDS

Send your pictures and tell us the stories behind them: email lpmagazine@regentmedia.sg

Perak, Malaysia

Pillars of Faith

The Ubudiah Mosque in the state of Perak is one of the most iconic mosques in Malaysia. It was built in 1917, commissioned by the 28th Sultan of Perak, Sultan Idris 1. Every time I visit the royal mosque, I’m always in awe of its unique beauty and architecture that seem to make time stand still. This time I went to visit the grave of my late grandfather, who was buried at the royal mausoleum situated beside the mosque, and I found a rather interesting angle to capture this spellbinding mosque, emphasising the 5 Pillars of Islam: the Shahada, the daily prayers, fasting during Ramadhan, almsgiving and pilgrimage to Mecca. Perak’s royal mosque, the Ubudiah Mosque is a fine example of lndo-Saracenic style of architecture

Megat Mohd Shahrin is from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Yangon, Myanmar

Showers of Blessing

I arrived at Shwedagon Pagoda in the early evening, as I heard that catching the sunset there is spectacular. Unfortunately, the skies were overcast so I decided to capture some night scenes instead. As luck would have it, it started raining before the lights at the Pagoda come on, but I was determined to get a good shot. The thousands of bells around the Pagoda began to chime and just after I managed to capture this shot, it started pouring. I, along with the other visitors, were left stranded indoors. Chan Myint Win is from Yangon, Myanmar.

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The Schwedagan Pagoda is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda for the Burmese, with relics of the past four Buddhas enshrined within

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011


ON THEROAD NEWS FROM OUR EXPERTS AROUND THE WORLD

This month l Lovers Locks l City at a glance – Hong Kong l Travel Updates l Qatar's state of play l Mumbai's Taj hotel

Padlocks carrying messages of love on the Hohenzollern Bridge in Cologne.

Locks say I love you EDITED BY MATT BOLTON. PHOTOGRAPH: PA PHOTOS

The love tradition that’s travelling the world - in the shape of a padlock ‘Don’t print our real names,’ murmurs a man I’ve agreed to call Pedro, as the woman nearby looks away. ‘They fine you if they catch you doing this.’ We’re standing on the Isabel II Bridge in Seville, a city renowned for its passion, yet one where the authorities seem to have lost their softer side. Uneven rows of padlocks glint beneath the sun, representing the lovers who signed them before flinging their keys into the river. I thought I’d found a local tradition but then I stumbled across padlocks on the Pont des Arts in Paris, rusty padlocks in Spain’s windswept Cabo de Gata Natural Park, and

even sequined padlocks and handcuffs in the party city of Cologne. The origin of the practice is unclear – padlocks have appeared in China for years at sacred sites, and there was a flurry of padlocking in the Hungarian town of Pecs in the 1980s, when university students locked them on a bridge next to the university either as a symbol of undying love or their determination to finish their courses. In 2007, the appearance of padlocks in the Italian film Ho Voglia di Te gave the tradition a boost, with reports of lovers’ padlocks in Latvia, Russia, Korea, Italy and, some might say a little less

glamorously, Southport. So why do the authorities hate them so much? It all comes down to weight. Some structures simply can’t support the bulk of 1,000 lovers’ dreams, so every now and then sparks fly in Seville as angle grinders sweep the bridge clean. This doesn’t bother Pedro, though, as he adds another tiny padlock to one already there. He Abigail King is a smiles at blogger at me. ‘For lonelyplanet.com, our son.’ and runs Inside The Travel Lab (insidethe travellab.com).

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER November 2011 2010

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ON THE ROAD

City At A Glance – Hong Kong

Travel Essentials

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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

Hong Kong is a paradox – a high-tech cosmopolitan city steeped in old world Chinese charm. This is a place where silvery skyscrapers rub shoulders with mould stained Guangzhou-style shophouses and trendy French cafes share walls with Chinese ma-and-pop shops. With a dazzling array of shopping, dining and nightlife options as well as a surprisingly abundant choice of hiking trails and beaches, Hong Kong is a city that will keep a traveller well

entertained. The skyline here is ever changing and one of the newest additions is the International Commerce Centre the tallest building in Hong Kong and the fourth tallest in the world. Though rapid urbanisation has transformed much of Hong Kong in the last 40 years, the city’s rich oriental heritage is alive and well, and worth enjoying before it disappears.

WORDS MICHELE KOH MOROLLO PHOTOGRAPHS: MICHELE KOH MOROLLO, HONG KONG TOURISM BOARD

Transport: The best way to get around Hong Kong is by riding the MTR metro subway. On Hong Kong Island, trams are a slow but pleasurable way to move around. It takes a while to figure the bus system and you’d do well to avoid taxis during rush hours. Season: From March to mid-May, expect cool weather between 18-27°C. Summertime from late May to mid-September brings sweltering temperatures of around 26-33°C. Late September to early December is the best time to visit, as the humidity is lower than usual and temperatures are cool. From mid-December to February, temperatures can drop to as low as 10°C, so bring along jackets and winter woolies.


ON THE ROAD 1

1. A ROOM FROM THE PAST The Hullet House, which opened in April last year, conjures memories of old Hong Kong. Each of the suites, which come with terraced balconies overlooking Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, is designed to reflect a distinct period in the city’s history. Located in the former Marine Police headquarters – a white-stucco colonial building built in 1881, this is the place to stay if you want to relive Hong Kong’s elegant past. 2. CHEUNG CHAU ISLAND Full of interesting rock formations, this small dumbbell-shaped island 10 kilometres southwest of the central business district is a lovely escape from the city. Here, you’ll find Tung Wan and Kwun Yam Wan beach, two of Hong Kong’s prettier beaches. Swim and sunbathe here while snacking on refreshing frozen fruit sticks and local desserts from the many vendors in the town square. Cheung Chau is a 45-minute ferry ride from Central Pier. Tickets cost US$1.60 and ferries depart every 20 minutes.

3

3. ALL DAY DIM SUM Hong Kong is famous for dim sum; unfortunately, most places only serve it for breakfast or lunch. So what should one do if dim sum cravings strike after sundown? Dim Sum Square on 88 Jervois Street in Sheung Wan serves fresh out of the steamer, ridiculously cheap, mouthwatering dim sum from 10am to 10pm on weekdays and 8am to 10pm on weekends. Be sure to order their crispy BBQ pork bun, crystal shrimp dumplings and Cantonese sponge cake.

2

4. GET TO KNOW THE LAND, WILSON’S WAY Named after David Wilson, former Governor of Hong Kong from 1987 to 1992, the Wilson Trail, which was built in 1994, is a 78-kilometre long walking trail that runs through eight country parks in Hong Kong’s three districts – Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories. Each of the parks has a distinct topography and character, which makes a hike though the trail an interesting way to get to know the expanse of the land, while getting some exercise.

4

5. VINTAGE SHOPPING Soho, the zone bordering Sheung Wan and Central is packed with antique shops and clothing boutiques. If you like your fashion antiquated, head to Select 18 on 18 Bridges Street, a second hand consignment store with retro sunglasses, clothes, shoes, accessories and rare items like a 1960s calculator and Polaroid cameras. For vintage dresses, beaded bags, antique clocks, watches and toys, try Amours Antiques on 45 Staunton Street. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

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ON THE ROAD

State of play in Qatar Football fever is a sign of success among Qatar’s new generation Football spirit arrives in Qatar, ahead of the 2022 World Cup

In the untamed intersection of Ring Road C in Doha, shrieks of delight obliterate the drone of cars on the highway above: Team Al-Jazeera, in Manchester United strips, illmatching socks and a complete disregard for the 50˚C of ravaging heat, have just scored against their rivals, Al-Shabiba. It’s not going to make the news, but it is going to make the day of the football-crazy kids knocking the ball around each afternoon of their luxury lives. When news of Qatar winning the bid to host the World Cup in 2022 hit the headlines, I asked Khalid, one such youngster, if he was pleased. ‘Pleased?’ he said, ‘Are you kidding? The world comes to Qatar, you bet I’m pleased: this was my dream!’ You might expect the dreams of youth to be built on something more material, but in a country where the average Qatari national enjoys the second highest income per capita in the world, thanks to oil and gas

revenues, where in the Pearl residential complex you can buy a Ferrari but not a pint of milk, money isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. For a generation it robbed incentive and left people despondent with unearned wealth. But times have changed and a different vision now prevails. Talent is promoted through initiatives like the sports academy Aspire. Heritage is revived through the Islamic Cultural Centre and is showcased in the magnificent Museum of Islamic Art. Traditional values are relived in the renovated alleyways of Souq Waqif. When the world comes to Qatar, there will therefore be much of beauty and excellence to see, the greatest part of which is illustrated in the roar above Ring Road C. Jenny Walker is the co-ordinating author of Lonely Planet’s Oman, UAE and the Arabian Peninsula. She lives in Oman.

Travel Updates

JETSTAR JAPAN The Qantas group, Japan Airlines and Mitsubishi Corporation have come together to launch Jetstar Japan – a new domestic airline that will commence operations by the end of 2012, using both Tokyo (Narita) and Osaka (Kansai) as hubs to other destinations like Sapporo, Fukuoka and Okinawa. Long-term plans include offering short-haul international services to key Asian cities.

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LOOKING TO LOMBOK Opening on 1 October, Lombok’s new International Airport looks set to boost visitor arrivals to the islands that comprise the West Nusatenggara province of Indonesia. Lombok has grown in popularity for its pristine beaches, wonderful underwater life and Mount Rinjani, the third highest mountain in Indonesia. The airport is built to handle three million passengers a year.

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

MONEY MATTERS Lonely Planet and Visa have joined forces to create a microsite (visa.com/lonelyplanet) packed with expert information on destinations and information on how to access cash in 12 destinations around the world. Visitors to the site will also be able to ‘Ask the Expert’ questions regarding their trip and receive individual tailored responses.

CALLING KOH SAMUI SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, will begin flights to Koh Samui, Thailand from September 27. This will be SilkAir's third destination in Thailand, after Phuket and Chiang Mai. The services will be operated with the Airbus 319 and scheduled three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays (silkair.com).

PHOTOGRAPHS: 123RF

Jetstar expands to Japan; Lombok's new airport; talking dollars and sense; SilkAir to Koh Samui


ON THE ROAD

ON THE ROAD

Extraordinary as usual Mumbai’s Taj hotel, which re-opened a year ago, is resolutely busier than ever One year since Mumbai’s Taj Mahal Palace and Tower fully reopened, and two and a half since the terrorist attacks that set this famed hotel ablaze, all 560 of its rooms are booked out. Demand has never been so high – this monument to a city’s ambition has become a focus for discreet defiance. At 5pm each day, a tour takes guests through highlights of the Palace Wing’s restoration; one that set out to reintroduce much of the grandeur for which the Taj became known when it first opened in 1903. It was remarkable for being the first hotel in India with electricity, and offered such luxuries as hot water, its own laundry and machines for creating ice. It went on to become the first hotel in Mumbai to be equipped with a lift, and the first in India with an air-conditioned dining room. ‘Here, maharajas would have been entertained. Just imagine the clothes the diners would have worn,’ says today’s guide, Nikhila Palat. She points to a small watercolour from the 1930s that inspired the renovation of the dining room. In 22

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

keeping with the opulence of those times, many thousands of sheets of gold leaf again adorn the steel pillars, lit by vast chandeliers created by glass blowers from Delhi. Our tour takes in the Rajput Suite, for which craftsmen were brought from Udaipur in Rajasthan to restore the ornate inlaid marble flooring. John Lennon and Yoko Ono once locked themselves away in these rooms for five days, asking not to be disturbed. We also pass through the Presidential Suite: an interconnecting maze of rooms including a boardroom, gym and spa, served by a team of butlers – 13 members of the Taj’s total staff of 1,700. Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev, France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and the USA’s Barack Obama have all visited this suite in the year since the reopening. ‘No photos, please,’ says Nikhila. ‘We like to maintain an air of mystery.’ Behind the lobby, a sculpture of a tree of life, recovered from the hotel’s wreckage, forms part of a memorial to those who lost

their lives here. Nearby, the guestbook lies open at Obama’s message: ‘Thank you for your extraordinary hospitality. Your staff is a symbol of graciousness and resilience.’ We head to the Harbour Bar to view a collection of paintings cleaned of the smoke damage left by the actions of the terrorists. Over a drink, Nikhila tells a tale recounted by survivors of the attacks – one of service to the last. In the Sea Lounge, above where we sit, a door was barricaded as chaos reigned outside. The guests hid beneath tables until one emerged to look for the bar’s finest bottle of champagne. He went to pour it into tumblers when the barman leapt up, saying: ‘I cannot allow you to do that!’ ‘Not even at a time like this?’ asked the guest. ‘Sir,’ said the barman, ‘allow me to fetch the correct glasses.’ Peter Grunert l tajhotels. is Editor of com Lonely Planet Magazine UK, and was visiting old friends in Mumbai.


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With so much on offer, Byron Bay promises one unforgettable experience after another


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ejuvenate your mind, body and spirit in the enchanting Byron Bay region, located just 45 minutes south of Australia’s Gold Coast. This pristine coastline offers surfing, whale and seabird watching, as well as an opportunity to frolic with dolphins. Artists, writers and musicians are similarly drawn to the Bay, deriving inspiration from its sublime grandeur. Byron Bay and the surrounding region is a place of astonishing natural beauty where teeming marine parks and ancient rainforests are nourished by vast winding rivers. Its rolling hills and rugged mountains are complemented by its warm, hospitable climate.

Natural Attractions

One of the attractions not to be missed is Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Be spellbound by various species of birds, reptiles and mammals in their full technicolor splendour. Ten minutes away from Gold Coast airport is Tropical Fruit World, fondly referred to as “A Theme Park with a Difference” for its impeccable ability to deliver (fruity) fun for the whole family. Tropical Fruit World features a myriad of delicious tropical fruits ranging from delectable favourites such as

jackfruit to the famed chocolate pudding fruit. Byron Bay is also famed for being Australia’s richest point break zone. A fertile wave-zone discovered by Australian and American surfers of the late sixties is now enjoyed by a growing number of surfing enthusiast. But non-surfers shouldn’t worry; beautiful beach-goers from all over the globe ensure that the bay is also a great place for people watching!

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Revelling in its role as one of Australia’s arts and creative industries hub, Byron Bay is also home to a rich calendar of events. Annual festivals include: Bay Bluesfest (April), Numbin Mardi Gras (June), Byron Bay Writers festival (August), Grafton Jacaranda festival (October). A melting pot of cosmopolitan chic, alternative philosophies, beach culture and hedonistic indulgence, Byron Bay is truly one of a kind in terms of its free-spirited charm and effortless allure. So reward yourself; laze in soft sand as you knock back a cold one, experience the luscious melancholic linger of that pentatonic lick on a blues guitar. Let Byron Bay’s laid-back attitude disclose to you the true art of leisure.

TRAVEL ESSENTIALS Geography – Byron Bay is a coastal town in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales (NSW), located just off the Pacific Highway, approximately 800 kilometres north of Sydney and 175 kilometres south of Brisbane. Climate – NSW has a temperate climate, thus Byron Bay is warm and welcoming throughout the year. September to November is autumn in NSW. Average autumn temperatures range from 17°C and 22°C Getting there – AirAsiaX offers daily flights from Kuala Lumpur to Gold Coast. Visit airasia.com for more information. Byron Easy Bus provides shuttle services from Gold Coast Airport to Byron Bay. Quote AirAsia when booking Cape Byron Kayaks, Skydive Byron Bay, Byron Easy Bus, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, Crystal Castle, or Tropical Fruit World and receive 10% off!

For more information about Byron Bay, go to visitbyronbay.com


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Traverse Japan on foot, take a train ride in Sabah and go diving in Qiandao Lake

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10 EASY TRIPS

Nakasendo, Japan WHY GO NOW?

For the budget conscious, getting from Kyoto to Tokyo can cost as little as US$55 for an eight-hour bus ride. For the time-strapped, the Shinkansen shortens the journey to a mere two and a half hours. But for the nostalgists, consider taking a 12-day walk from the cultural epicentre of Japan to the bustling capital. The Nakasendo, literally translated as “central mountain route” was a popular and important ancient highway during Japan’s feudal period, which connected Kyoto to Edo, or 28

modern day Tokyo. Stretching over 530 kilometres, the Nakasendo passed along Lake Biwa, over the mountains at Sekigahara, across the plains north of present-day Nagoya, close to the southern Japanese Alps, across the plain between Matsumoto and Karuisawa, and down to the Kanto plain surrounding present-day Tokyo to Tokyo’s predecessor, Edo. Join Walk Japan on its innovative Nakasendo Way, a fully-guided,12-day walking tour that goes along the most enjoyable, scenic and

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best-preserved parts of the old highway. Explore the Nakasendo on an intimate level as the tour allows one to stay in delightful HOW DO I MAKE IT HAPPEN?

M Walk Japan is the pioneer of off-the-beaten-track walking tours in Japan. While they also provide walking tours such as the Kunisaki Trek, Shogun Trail and Kyushu Expedition, Nakasendo Way still remains its bestseller (walkjapan.com). M Jetstar Asia (jetstar.com) and Singapore Airlines (singaporeair. com) fly direct from Singapore

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local inns, dine in family-run restaurants, bringing you closer to the Japanese and their way of life.

Changi Airport to Kansai International Airport, while Malaysia Airlines (malaysiaairlines.com) flies direct from Kuala Lumpur. Trains and buses run regularly from the airport to Kyoto. M The Screen in Kyoto offers just 13 guest rooms, each stylishly designed by 13 different local and international designers (from US$200; screen-hotel.jp).

WORDS: JOYCE HUANG, LOUIS LAW, DEREK RODRIGUEZ. PHOTOGRAPH: PHOTOLIBRARY

The Nakasendo Way brings one past atmospheric old towns and up close to the Japanese way of life


10 EASY TRIPS

Yangon, Myanmar WHY GO NOW?

Yangon celebrates The Full Moon Day of Thadingyut, the Lighting Festival of Myanmar. This auspicious festival happens from the 11 to 13 October this year. The Lighting Festival is the second most popular festival in Myanmar after Thingyan (New Year Water Festival). It celebrates the descent of Buddha from heaven after he preached the Abidhama (the most difficult of Buddhist teaching) to his mother reborn in heaven.

During the festival, groups of youths can be seen walking with candles and gifts in their hands to pay respect to their elders. This act (Kadaw in Burmese) is not just a form of paying respect, it is also practiced to cultivate a person’s spirituality. The age-old tradition is observed in reverence to the Buddha, his laws (Dharma), the monastic community (Sangha), parents and teachers. Although the locals treat the festival very seriously, it is by no means a sombre affair as

a carnival atmosphere engulfs the entire nation. Expect to see acrobatic street performers,

colourful dance troupes and makeshift stalls invigorate the dusty streets of Yangon.

HOW DO I MAKE IT HAPPEN?

M Fly direct to Yangon from Singapore via Silkair, Myanmar Airways International (maiair. com) and Jetstar Asia. AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines and Myanmar Airways fly direct to Yangon from Kuala Lumpur. M Parkroyal Yangon is located in the heart of the city and set

amidst the country’s rich cultural heritage. Each of the 267 rooms and suites are spacious and elegantly appointed, with premier Orchid Club rooms offering additional amenities and exclusive privileges (from US$72; parkroyalhotels.com).

PHOTOGRAPH: PHOTOLIBRARY

2 Pagoda barges can be spotted during the Burmese month of Thadingyut

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Melbourne, Australia

Celebrate ethnic diversity during Davao’s Kadayawan Festival

Take a ride on a vintage steam locomotive up northern Borneo

WHY GO NOW?

The Melbourne International Arts Festival, from 6 to 22 October, promises to be a truly international festival, with major presentations from regional and international artistes. The 2011 edition presents 15 world premiers and 13 Australian premiers in a program of 52 shows, events and projects. Kick off the festival with subversive Russian art collective, AES+F’s Angels-Demons.Parade, who will take over the streets with an arresting and playful sculptural spectacle. Don’t miss Ganesh versus the Third Reich, a singular production from the intrepid Back to Back Theatre, formed in 1987 by an ensemble of actors with disabilities. Round off your visit by catching the world finest singers assemble with The Black Arm Band for a one-night-only performance (melbournefestival.com.au).

HOW DO I MAKE IT HAPPEN?

M There are five direct flights from Singapore to Melbourne. Take your pick from Qantas Airways (qantas. com.au), British Airways (britishairways.com), Singapore Airlines, Jetstar Airways and Emirates (emirates.com). AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines offer direct flights from Kuala Lumpur. M Metcard gives you unlimited and flexible travel between metropolitan trains, trams and buses. A one-day travel card costs US$7 (metlinkmelbourne.com.au). M Art Series – The Cullen is a boutique hotel situated in the entertainment district, an ideal place to stay if you want to soak up the festive vibe (artseries.com.au/cullen).

Sabah, Malaysia

Catch energetic performances from acts like Australia’s Tom Tom Crew at the Melbourne Festival

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WHY GO NOW?

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mangrove jungles and pristine coastal beaches as the train chugs along the tracks. HOW DO I MAKE IT HAPPEN?

M The steam train is scheduled to run every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday; and is priced at US$85 for adults and US$50 for children between the ages of two and twelve. The ride is complimentary for children below two years old (infor@ northborneorailway.com.my). M Sutera Harbour Resort is a tourism development project spread over 384 acres of prime sea-front land and consists of the five-star The Pacific Sutera Hotel, the award winning The Magellan Sutera Resort as well as the Sutera Harbour Marina, Golf & Country Club. It is only five minutes away from Kota Kinabalu city centre and 10 minutes from the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (from US$90; suteraharbour.com).

PHOTOGRAPHS: MELBOURNE FESTIVAL

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After its maiden voyage in early July this year, The North Borneo Railway featuring the British ‘Vulcan’ Steam Engine takes visitors to Kota Kinabalu on a journey into nostalgia three times a week. The vintage steam locomotive is one of the few functional locomotives left in the world that is fuelled by wood. The train, the last of a fleet of locomotives that has plied the tracks through Borneo since the 1880s, has a capacity of 80 passengers accommodated in five colonial-period carriages, each with a capacity of 16 passengers, and named after a town along the journey – Papar, Kinarut, Tanjung Aru, Putatan and Kawang. Throughout the journey, you will be able to take in the sights and sounds of the countryside, paddy fields,


10 EASY TRIPS

Bangalore, India WHY GO NOW?

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The city is a good place to do some shopping. Pick up incense, silks, authentic tribal jewellery, brass and copper ware, soapstone statues, aromatic sandalwood and rosewood carvings and lacquer work. HOW DO I MAKE IT HAPPEN?

M Fly direct from Singapore to Bangalore via Silkair and Singapore Airlines. Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia service direct routes from Kuala Lumpur. M Sheraton Bangalore Hotel’s 230 guest rooms and suites combine classic and contemporary designs in a comfortable setting. Sweeping city views from the health club, pool, and spa contribute to great spaces for re-energising your body and soul (starwoodhotels.com).

After visiting the Bull Temple (above) in Bangalore, check out the colourful markets for a bout of shopping

PHOTOGRAPHS: PHOTOLIBRARY

The capital city of the southern Indian state of Karnataka, Bengaluru or Bangalore, is one of India’s most vibrant and modern cities. Visitors will be amazed by Bengaluru’s unique fusion of new-school, hi-tech sensibility and old-school aesthetics. October is an opportune time to visit Bangalore as the weather is invigorating and because it heralds not one but two festivals – Dusserha (6 October) and Diwali (26 October). Begin your pilgrimage with the Bull Temple. Built in the 16th century by Kempegowda, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva’s vehicle Nandi. There are many interesting sights to behold at the temple. Spend a weekend to see typical marriage processions, car baptisms (to ward off the evil eye) and multifarious bards belting the latest Bangalore tunes in and around the temple.

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10 EASY TRIPS Try not to get too squirmish as devotees start conducting dangerous acts during the Vegetarian Festival

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Phuket, Thailand From 27 September to 5 October, Phuket celebrates the bizarre Phuket Vegetarian Festival. While the name Vegetarian Festival may not have you jumping off your couch in excitement, this herbivorous shindig is much more than meets the eye. In fact, it is the most exciting and idiosyncratic tradition of Phuket province. The origins of the festival are unclear. Legend has it that the festival was brought to Phuket 32

by a wandering Chinese opera group who fell ill with malaria while performing on the island. In response, the troupe decided to adhere to a strict vegetarian diet and pray to the Nine Emperor Gods to purify the mind and body. Upon recovery, a celebration was held in honour of the gods as well as to express their happiness at surviving what was, in the nineteenth century, a fatal illness. During the performances of religious rites at the temples,

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priests conduct various kinds of dangerous acts to show the power of their gods and to rid followers of their bad luck. Acts include walking barefoot across HOW DO I MAKE IT HAPPEN?

M Thai AirAsia, Tiger Airways (tigerairways.com), SilkAir (silkair. com) and Jetstar Asia fly direct to Phuket from Singapore. Qatar Airways, AirAsia and Malaysia Airlines fly direct to Phuket from Kuala Lumpur.

a stretch of ground paved with burning charcoal and cutting, striking or piercing parts of the body with sharp objects, among other death-defying theatrics. M Set in an exclusive area of Patong, Pacific Light Hotel offers comfortable and spacious accommodation for a relaxing holiday. The hotel features a tropical landscape to enhance its warm ambience (US$40; pacificlighthotel.com).

PHOTOGRAPH: TOURISM AUTHORITY OF THAILAND

WHY GO NOW?


10 EASY TRIPS

Ningaloo Coast, Australia WHY GO NOW?

The Ningaloo Coast in Western Australia has been given the highest level of international recognition with its inscription on the World Heritage List because of the striking natural landscapes of Cape Range and Ningaloo Reef’s biological diversity. The listing covers an area of 604,500ha and means the area ranks alongside sites such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Grand Canyon, Egypt’s Pyramids, Yellowstone National Park, Stonehenge and Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. Ningaloo Reef is one of the most beautiful and accessible coral reefs in the world. It is ranked seventh on the world’s list of coral reef biodiversity ‘hotspots’ and second in terms of the number of species found within a limited range. Together, Ningaloo Marine Park and Cape Range National Park attracts

more than 250,000 visitors a year, taking up the golden opportunity to encounter whale sharks, manta rays, dugongs, turtles, humpback and other whales, rays and sharks, as well as many rare and diverse plants and wildlife found within Cape Range. HOW DO I MAKE IT HAPPEN?

M The closest airport to Ningaloo Coast is Learmonth Airport in Exmouth. A shuttle transfer is available, but should be booked in advance. Skywest Airlines and Qantas both fly to Learmonth from Perth Airport. M Novotel Ningaloo Resort provides a fantastic base for you to enjoy the natural beauty of Ningaloo coast and offers direct access to the beach. Depending on your needs, both apartments and bungalows are available (from US$300; novotelningaloo.com.au).

PHOTOGRAPHS: TOURISM WESTERN AUSTRALIA

Catch sight of whale sharks and swim in crystal clear water at Ningaloo Coast

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WHY GO NOW?

Take a dive in the Qiandao Lake and discover the Lion City, the Chinese equivalent of the ancient city of Atlantis. Qiandao Lake is a man-made lake located in Chuan’an County, Zhejiang, China. At the foot of the Wu Shi Mountain lays an ancient city known as Shi Cheng (Lions City), built in Dong Han period. The valley was flooded in 1959 to create the lake for the Xin’an River Dam project, submerging the ancient Lion City to its tragic fate. It was named “Lion City” because of the Five Lion Mountain that sits just behind the city. HOW DO I MAKE IT HAPPEN?

M There are hourly buses that connect Qiandao Lake with the provincial capital, Hangzhou. AirAsia X flies direct to Hangzhou from Kuala Lumpur. Direct flights from Singapore to Hangzhou are available via Jetstar. M Take a bus from the West Bus station in Hangzhou directly to Qiandao Lake. The trip lasts for

Big Blue dive operator (big-blue.cn) based in Shanghai, runs weekend trips twice a month to the lake and has started to uncover parts of the lost city. September would be the ideal month to visit the lake before the arrival of winter. Qiandao Lake also offers many above-water attractions for non-diving travellers. The Plat Blossom Mountain is the best part of Qiandao Lake, named after five conjoined mountains. It resembles a plat blossom and has gained fame for its resplendent natural scenery and perfect environment. approximately three hours and cost somewhere between US$8 to US$10. The buses run frequently (about one every hour) between the two places. M 1000 Island Lake Greentown Resort Hotel is located in Qiandao Lake Town. It features a swimming pool, three dining options, rooms with a fullyequipped kitchen and free internet (86 0571 6508 8888).

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Catch sight of the world’s largest fish species in Donsol

Pay respects to the dearly departed by giving alms to the monks

Siem Reap, Cambodia WHY GO NOW?

The man-made lake consists of over a thousand islands, hence earning its name Qiandao Lake or Thousand Island Lake

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Take advantage of low visitor numbers during the short and sharp showers of September and October and visit Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, where the flourishing seasonal fauna adds another dimension to this majestic ancient temple. The sight of the grand monument towering over the landscape is breathtaking at any time of day though locals suggest that the first trip to Angkor Wat should be made in optimal lighting conditions, usually around 1 to 2pm. If you are able to pull yourself out of bed, sunrise at the temple is definitely a highlight of any journey to the lonely kingdom. This is also the time of year for the P’Chum Ben Festival (the Cambodian variation of the seventh month festival), during which respect is paid to the

dead via offerings left with the monks at the temples. Celebrated on the 26 to 28 of September this year, P’Chum Ben is a uniquely Cambodian festival not to be missed. HOW DO I MAKE IT HAPPEN?

M Direct flights from Singapore to Siem Reap are available from Jetstar and Silkair. AirAsia and Malaysian Airlines offer direct flights into Siem Reap from Kuala Lumpur Airport. M The Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor in Siem Reap has extensive facilities for both the business traveller and those wishing to simply take in the sights and pamper themselves. For those wanting to unwind, there is the famous Raffles’ Amrita Spa, which offers treatments that combine the best of western technologies and eastern therapies (raffles.com).

PHOTOGRAPHS: PHOTOLIBRARY

Qiandao Lake, China


10 EASY TRIPS Catch a ferry from the Cijin ferry terminal to Cijin Island for cheap and fresh seafood

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Kaohsiung, Taiwan

PHOTOGRAPH: LAWRENCE LIM

WHY GO NOW?

Cool, breezy and easy – three words that succinctly sums up Kaohsiung at this time of the year. Go early in September to avoid the tourist crowd and feast on sumptuous street fare found along the backstreets of Yancheng. And if you have some spare cash in hand, why not buy yourself a hand assembled bamboo bathtub at the end of Wufu 4th road in Yancheng. Catch a ferry to Cijin Island, a firm favourite among locals for its wide variety of delectable seafood at unbeatable prices.

Cijin Island is also a great place to walk, bike or swim. Don’t miss the Matsu Temple - Kaohsiung’s oldest shrine and the lighthouse, from where you get a panoramic view of the island. If you’re in a mood for love but can’t quite afford the time for a trip to Paris, then make your way to the Unconditional Love River for a quiet and romantic evening walk. The riverbanks are lined up with open-air cafes and peaceful little parks where you can rest or have a drink.

HOW DO I MAKE IT HAPPEN?

M China Airlines flies direct from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to Kaohsiung. M Stay the night at The Royal Lees Kaohsiung at No.105 Wufu 1st Road. The Royal Lees runs about US$100-150 per night. Hotel staff are proficient in English and attentive to detail. The hotel is well maintained and in a nice district.

M Kaohsiung MRT (krtco.com. tw) opened in 2008, with two lines. The Red Line runs from north to south, offering a handy route from both the THSR Zuoying station and the airport into the downtown core, while Orange Line runs across the city from the Port of Kaohsiung in the west to eastern suburb of Daliao. The Metro Line is clean and offers a convenient way to quickly move within the city.

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During a traditional tea ceremony oolong leaves are measured with a gourd and steam is used to heat the delicate china cups. OPPOSITE Tiananmen Square was developed by Mao to project the power of the Communist Party

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(A Beijing State of Mind)

Beyond the futuristic architecture and Olympic hype lies a city quietly evolving, with art galleries taking over old factories and cafĂŠs staging literary festivals WORDS FERGAL KEANE | PHOTOGRAPHS MATT MUNRO

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A

S the city looms ahead, the sun blasts through the morning smog. Watching it filter through the glass skyscrapers, I feel I am entering a forest of mirrors, struggling to recognise anything of the city I last visited 15 years ago. ‘Too big, too noisy and too fast,’ I think to myself. Close to the airport there are pockets of American-style suburbia – housing estates with names like Yosemite and River Garden, home to Beijing’s expatriate communities and the Chinese elite. Beyond these stretch endless industrial compounds and public housing blocks, all intersected and encircled by the city’s relentlessly expanding network of highways; the bicycles of old Beijing have been replaced by five million cars. On first encounter, this new Beijing can be a powerfully alienating place – the ultimate Asian megacity choking on its own success. Nearly 20 million people live here and the thrum of human noise is constant. When I worked here as the BBC’s Asia correspondent in the early 1990s, Beijing had already escaped the constraints of strict Maoism but it was still an austere city. The headlong rush to riches had yet to begin. In those days, the great shopping highlight 38

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was haggling at the old antique market at Panjiayuan or browsing the stalls on Yabao Road, jostling with Russian traders who came south on the Trans-Siberian Express to buy clothes by the bulk load. Now, walking along the street near my hotel in Sanlitun, the city’s business centre, I contemplate an entirely new Beijing: one brimming over with Western brand names and trendy bars, a place of concrete, glass and sharp angles. Luxury cars sweep by carrying the new masters of China. Some have made it through hard work, luck and business acumen. Others belong to the class known as ‘princelings’, relatives and friends of the party elite who have made their millions thanks to powerful connections. In the years I’ve been away, the bulldozers have razed many of the city’s hutongs, the traditional narrow streets that survived the rise and fall of dynasties but could not compete with capitalism. A few minutes later I’m slurping my way through lunch in a noodle shop, where the main dish is Malan, a hand-pulled noodle from northern China, listening to my old friend, the writer and guide Lijia Zhang, telling me I have it all wrong: ‘Give it a chance, Fergal. Wait a few days. I promise you there’s another city.’

Lijia lives in the poetically named village of Jiuxianqiao, or ‘Wine God’s Bridge’, an area of narrow streets and low-rise brick houses barely 15 minutes’ walk from the mad bustle of Sanlitun. Here, you enter a portal into a city stubbornly resisting the aggressive advance of modernity. Old men gather on street corners to play chess. Families wander in the dusk. A man stands outside his home brushing his teeth. Escaping from an open window, the fumes of garlic frying in hot oil catch in my chest and bring water to my eyes. This is the hour when the city exhales – a slow release of the tension of the day. Like so many of the capital’s residents, Lijia is not a native. She was brought up in the old imperial capital Nanjing, in the Yangtze Delta. Her story is typical of modern China’s narrative of change. She was a promising student with a love of English literature, but poverty forced her to leave school at 16 to become a factory worker. Within a decade, though, as China’s economic reforms created opportunities for the young and energetic, she quit the industrial drudgery and moved to Beijing. I met her when she was translating for foreign journalists at the beginning of her own career as a writer; she was a young woman with a hearty laugh and an irreverent sense of humour. Fifteen years later she is the respected author of a best-selling memoir, the ironically titled Socialism is Great, is writing a novel on prostitution and also acts as a guide for travellers who want to experience Beijing’s rich intellectual heritage. ‘If you come here as a tourist, the danger is that you only get the big hotels, the shopping malls and a quick tour of the Forbidden City or the old Summer Palace,’ she says. That evening, at her home, writers and thinkers mingle and gossip. The dinner table is laden with dishes from all across China. There are Sichuan-style fried green beans with minced pork; a spicy gong bao (cubes of chicken fried with peanuts, peppercorns and chillies), a dish once denounced by Maoists as politically

MAP ILLUSTRATION: TINA ZELLMER, CHINESE CALLIGRAPHY: GINGER MONKEY

(Writing)


BEIJING Lijia Zhang came to Beijing seeking opportunity in her twenties. The city’s tall skyscrapers, such as the China Central Television building (in the distance, far right), are emblematic of its continued enthusiasm for progress and modernity

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

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BEIJING

incorrect because of its associations with imperial China; and steamed egg with five spices, which is fragrant with the scent of aniseed and cinnamon. I sit beside the journalist Raymond Zhou, whose combative columns in the China Daily reach millions of readers every day. Mild-mannered and genial in person but with a barbed wit, Zhou regularly scrutinises the pressures of a city undergoing rapid transformation. ‘China is gripped by hatred, which is almost like an out-of-control machine-gun firing indiscriminately at any moving target,’ he writes. The list of hate figures, according to Zhou, includes Westerners, officials, celebrities, the old, the young, the rich and the poor: ‘And we hate ourselves, because our relentless drive for a better life seems to go nowhere.’ 40

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(Art) The Bookworm is the city’s first Englishlanguage bookshop. Young Chinese mingle with expats over coffee, wine, prose and poetry. Manager Alex Pearson, whose father was a diplomat in Beijing in the ’80s, also founded Beijing’s first international book fair. ‘There is a confidence in people which didn’t exist before,’ she tells me. ‘It feels as if time is on fast-forward and there is this constant influx of interesting and stimulating people. It’s a fantastic city in which to experiment with ideas,

a great place to establish – and occasionally lose – businesses.’ On the book festival’s opening night, Chinese ‘sensualist’ Hong Ying, who was once sued for allegedly libelling a dead short-story author, shared the stage with an Argentine crime writer. Also that night, a Hong Kong novelist summoned up the universal loss of parental death while a Hungarian, Peter Zilahy, related tales of totalitarian madness in his own land. In Beijing, one is constantly struck by the tension between old and new, between official constraints and the striving for artistic freedom. A filmmaker friend who has lived in the city for decades put it like this: ‘The artist is constantly stretching his arms out to see how close are the bars of the cage.’ The events of the Arab Spring have heightened official fears of a revival of pro-democracy activism, as the recent arrest of the artist and activist Ai Weiwei illustrates. Yet I feel I am witnessing something very special and enduring – a cultural flowering overlooked by a Western world obsessed with economics. I head to District 798 in Dashanzhi, home to the city’s avant-garde artistic movement. Located in a former industrial complex built by the East Germans in the Bauhaus style in the 1950s, it is at first glance an unlovely place: an expanse of old workshops and factory compounds. But inside is a warren of artists’ studios, galleries and performance spaces, as well as bars, restaurants and bookshops. There are striking Modernist sculptures and delicate ink paintings with artistic roots that lie in a Chinese tradition of calligraphy dating back several centuries before Christ. Artist and poet Fan Xueyi, who calls herself Sunlight in English, works with water and ink, her verse and imagery each complementing the other. ‘I think that by experiencing Chinese poetry and art the foreigner can see something of the essence of our culture, which is about achieving a harmony between life and nature,’ she says. Fan is pragmatic when considering the rampant materialism of the new Beijing. ‘You can get rich quickly but you can’t have taste or sophistication quickly. But as people become rich, they’ll need finer things in life and will learn to appreciate art more. It will drive art forward in China.’


CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT In the hutongs of Beijing old men play xiangqi, or Chinese chess; these narrow old streets are also home to places like the Dali Courtyard, serving food from Yunnan province; journalist Raymond Zhou at the strikingly modern National Grand Theatre; the Summer Palace Gardens are filled with historic artworks; a rickshaw driver takes a breather as he waits for his next fare; artist and poet Sunlight’s delicate calligraphy; long strings of dough are pulled over and over to form noodles; The Bookworm is a library, bar, cafÊ and bookshop combined, and runs a popular literary festival each year. OPPOSITE At the Summer Palace, performers leave the stage after a display of traditional Chinese dance


Artist and poet Sunlight in her studio in District 798, an art space in a former electronics factory designed by East Germans in the 1950s

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BEIJING

Some of Beijing’s traditional hutongs, narrow streets, have survived modernisation. BELOW On many street corners in Beijing are hawkers making youtiao, or doughnuts, a popular choice for breakfast

(Food) It is impossible to separate food and art in Beijing – Chinese cuisine is a great national art form. ‘To the people, food is heaven,’ the old proverb says. In my time, I have sampled fiery pork dishes in the Cultural Revolution Restaurant, an emporium of questionable moral taste given the vast numbers of people persecuted in that era. I have devoured Mongolian hotpot while listening to Beijing opera in the upstairs room of a small café, where devotees proudly showed me photo albums of their favourite stars. And I have eaten a delicate turtle soup while watching dancers from the Dai ethnic group, of subtropical Yunnan province, flutter mothlike to an ancient melody wafting forth from a battered cassette player.

One of the jewels of Beijing’s traditional architecture and cuisine, the Mei Mansion, is set in a 200-year-old courtyard and named in honour of the great Beijing opera singer, Mei Lanfang. Mei always played women’s roles and is said to have maintained his feminine appearance by avoiding fatty foods. The resident chef here belongs to the same family that cooked for Mei. The cooking stresses the original flavours of the ingredients: there will be no hot spices to mask the stewed pig’s head, the meatballs and crab, or steamed fish. But my favourite dining experience is to wander along the prosaically named ‘snack street’ in Dongcheng district, or through the nearby night market, which vibrates with life after dark. The air is filled with the calls of the stallholders offering everything from the ubiquitous noodles to spicy Sichuan soup and Shangdong-style pancakes, deep-fried crickets and scorpions. With Lijia as my guide, I can eavesdrop on the back-and-forth banter of cook and customer in accents from all over China. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

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(Learning) In purely economic terms, Beijing in the 21st century resembles what Manhattan meant to the ‘tired, poor, huddled masses’ of Europe in an earlier epoch. It is a giant magnet, pulling people from across China’s vast hinterland in one of the greatest migrations in human history. According to a recent estimate, one in three Beijingers is a migrant worker and many are employed in service industries. They form a silent army that sweeps the streets, waits on tables, and cleans the 44

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hotel rooms of tourists. The state has tried to stem the flow, steadily rolling back the number of residence permits given to newcomers. Yet they keep coming. One of the great challenges they face is education. By one estimate, there are 300 migrant schools catering to 500,000 children. Beijing is the great crucible of social reinvention, and every child learns that hard work at school is a potential escape route from poverty. The road to Bowen School cuts across dusty fields and through grim industrial zones in southeast Beijing. As we arrive in the yard I spot two boys, aged about 10, racing ahead into the school. It’s a cold, two-storey building of the uniform drabness that characterises the China of the toiling masses. Forget the tyranny of first appearances: the boys have alerted

their fellow pupils to our arrival and I’m greeted by a vibrant mass of children. They clap, they cheer, they surge around us like a living sea. ‘Hello.’ ‘What is your name?’ The English words are carefully pronounced and with relish. Clearly much effort has gone into their learning. I am here on a Beijing Buddy visit, one of several programmes run by the Migrant Children’s Foundation, which promotes cultural exchanges between foreigners and the schools. Helen Boyle, who runs the programme, has watched children grow in confidence: ‘When we started teaching over a year ago, they weren’t able or very willing to speak at all and were quite shy. Now they can make sentences and are always very enthusiastic.’ Knowing the Chinese fondness for legends, I summon up some Celtic tall tales from my childhood that involve ferocious warriors, vicious kings, an improbably large potato, a brave young prince and the inevitable triumph of good. An enthusiastic Chinese volunteer translates. My heroes are cheered. My villains are hissed at. And the laughter and smiles stay with me all the way home. Late in the afternoon, I go to see the old Summer Palace, the Yihe Yuan (‘Gardens of Nurtured Harmony’). Here, the Empress Dowager Cixi spent vast sums of money reconstructing the complex after it was attacked by vengeful allied troops during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. It’s a powerful symbol of restored Chinese national pride. Parties of schoolchildren pass by, doubtless being regaled with stories of iniquitous foreigners in times past; they pay me no heed. I sit by the edge of the Kunming Lake and, beside that wide expanse of water, after all the stimulation of the previous days, I feel a sense of peace. Beijing may not capture your heart immediately. It is a proud, quirky, challenging place, a city of hustlers and of poets, where hard realities and dreams collide every day. On its streets you wander through yesterday and tomorrow, from ancient history to accelerating future, sometimes in the same shimmering minute, and there is nowhere, absolutely nowhere, quite like it in our world or in our time. LP Fergal Keane was attending Beijing’s Bookworm Festival, and is a regular contributor to Lonely Planet Magazine.


BEIJING Migrant children sit down to lessons at the Bowen School. OPPOSITE The Buddhist Fragrance Pavilion in the Summer Palace is a favourite spot for school groups to learn about China’s history


MAKE IT HAPPEN

BEIJING It’s sometimes hard to keep up with the speed of change in Beijing, but its imperial palaces, cherished cuisine and bargain-hungry shoppers are among the city’s constants ESSENTIALS

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WAYS TO DO IT…

Getting there Air China (airchina.com) flies direct from both Singapore Changi International Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Beijing. Getting around

Stroll through 798 Art District

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The splendid SUMMER PALACE was the old imperial lakeside getaway. Modern Beijing residents keep up the tradition in great numbers on weekends and holidays (US$8; Yiheyuan; Xiyuan subway station).

BARGAIN! With lovely rooms and a hutong setting, CITY WALLS gives a taste of Beijing’s traditional courtyard houses, just a few minutes’ walk from the north gate of the Forbidden City (from US$57; beijingcitywalls.com).

The PARK PLAZA is a good-value find, with a well-presented four-star style. It’s close to Tiananmen Square, next to its sister hotel, the lavish Regent Beijing (from US$130; parkplaza.com/beijingcn).

Its extravagant foyer, thorough professionalism and assortment of gorgeous restaurants make the ST REGIS a marvellous five-star choice. It also has a 24-hour butler service if you’re feeling lazy (from US$405; stregis.com/beijing).

EAT

Jiaozi dumplings are a quintessential Beijing snack. NIUGE JIAOZI, east of the Forbidden City, dishes up dozens of varieties (dumpling portions from US$1.50; 85 Nanheyan Dajie, northeast of Tiananmen Dong subway).

BEIJING DADONG ROAST DUCK RESTAURANT’s bird is crispy, lean and delicious, and this place is always teeming, so book ahead (half duck US$15; 1st fl, Nanxincang International Plaza, 22 Dongsishitiao Lu; 00 86 10 5169 0328).

BARGAIN! The elegant setting of DALI COURTYARD, in a restored hutong house, makes it an idyllic place to sample the subtle cuisine of Yunnan province (set menus from US$16; 67 Xiaojingchang Hutong; 00 86 10 8404 1430).

DO

Chaotic PANJIAYUAN MARKET is the best place to shop for arts and crafts. Vendors can start at ten times the real price so bargain hard (off Third Ring Rd, Jinsong subway).

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THE FINAL WORD

‘Be not afraid of going slowly but only of standing still.’ Chinese proverb

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Behind the modern lines of the CAPITAL MUSEUM (right) are first-rate galleries of porcelain and other treasures (US$5; capitalmuseum. org.cn/en; closed Mon).

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The imperial Summer Palace

Browse the 798 ART DISTRICT for free to see Beijing’s changing modern art scene (798space.com). Take a taxi from the centre (around US$5), or bus routes 909 (US$0.15; from Dongzhimen subway station) and 403 (US$0.15; from Beijing station).

Further reading Pack Lonely Planet’s Beijing City Guide (US$19.99), or the pocket-sized Beijing Encounter (US$12.99).

Dadong Restaurant’s duck

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A combination of bar, café, restaurant and library, THE BOOKWORM is run by Alex Pearson (left). There’s also a roof terrace in summer (mains from US$11; beijingbookworm.com).

ATMOSPHERE, on the 80th floor of the China World Summit Wing hotel, is the highest bar in town – for now. Head here to see Beijing’s cosmopolitan face and sweeping views of the modern city while you sip cocktails (shangri-la.com).

WORDS: RORY GOULDING, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM DAMIAN HARPER AND DAVID EIMER. PHOTOGRAPHS: ALAMY, MATT MUNRO, PHOTOLIBRARY

Beijing’s ever-expanding subway network is usually a faster option than taking a taxi through the traffic, with a flat 20p single journey fare. If taking a taxi, try to have your destination written down in Chinese beforehand.


Djemaa el-Fna is abuzz with activity; by day, storytellers, snake-charmers, belly dancers and orange-juice sellers vie for attention, and as night falls it becomes one of the world’s largest food-stall markets

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The Perfect Trip

Morocco

Head off on your Moroccan trip armed with our guide to the country’s mountains, coast, desert and cities, and you’ll return home with tales to last 1,001 nights (magic carpet purchase optional) WORDS ALISON BING | PHOTOGRAPHS PHILIP LEE HARVEY

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Your trip mapped out

Take in the mesmerising madness of Djemaa el-Fna, then retreat to the coast in Essaouira before trekking in the High Atlas and observing artistic traditions in Fez FEZ Best for traditional artisans 5

MARRAKESH Best for street life 1

Finish your trip in Fez, the spiritual and cultural centre of Morocco. This imperial city is home to artisans who still use centuries-old techniques.

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Be prepared to lose all sense of direction in Marrakesh, with its mazelike medinas and action-packed main square, Djemaa el-Fna.

4 SKOURA OASIS Best for desert life

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2 ESSAOUIRA Best for coastal retreats

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Meet traditional Tuareg people and marvel at mudbrick palaces in the Skoura Oasis, once the goal of traders trekking through the Sahara.

For a more laid-back pace, head to the fortified coastal town of Essaouira (dubbed Wind City of Africa), popular with surfers and artists alike.

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Trek in the High Atlas for an exhilarating experience. Admire rugged wildlife and villages that appear to have grown out of the mountains.

MAP ILLUSTRATION: TINA ZELLMER

3 HIGH ATLAS MOUNTAINS Best for walking


The Perfect Trip 1

MOROCCO

MARRAKESH

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Pity the sunset in Marrakesh. Tonight it attempts its best tricks, turning the Koutoubia minaret to solid gold and kissing the city’s pink mud-brick ramparts until they blush crimson. But just like every other night for 1,000 years, the setting sun is upstaged by the spectacle already in progress in the Djemaa el-Fna. In the lopsided square, 100 chefs fire up makeshift grills and stir vats of steaming snails. Belly-dancers wink behind gossamer veils that hide manly stubble. Someone’s grandmother leaps into the melee to flag down a horse-drawn taxi. Mid-song, a Gnawa musician lands a backflip within inches of a speeding red scooter. In the midst of it all, a donkey bearing bundles of mint staunchly refuses to budge. Welcome to the main stage of Moroccan halqa (street theatre), where the show has continued since Marrakesh was a medieval trading post, and public executions earned the Djemaa el-Fna the title Assembly of the Dead. By 10am each day the Djemaa sets the scene, with canopied orange-juice carts and apothecaries who prescribe ostrich eggs for strength and walnut root for social anxiety. Around noon, henna artists find a moment of calm to plonk down stools and draw intricate temporary tattoos freehand. Yet the show doesn’t peak until shadows fall and Gnawa musicians start playing their metal qarqaba (castanets), duff (hand drums) and twanging three-stringed ginbri (bass). Once the beat kicks in, the place begins to jump, often literally: transported by the music, men leap through the air. ‘Everything changes here, yet nothing ever changes,’ says Gnawa musician Ibrahim el-Ghatouani. ‘For 13 years, I performed at Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida. No-one could jump as high as me; the pay was good. But I missed my family, and when I came back, my place was waiting for me in the Djemaa el-Fna.’ He’s got a point: other cities have their moments, but only Marrakesh puts on a show that makes tap-dancing mice in a castle seem like an opening act. The reviews are hard to beat. On the strength of its halqa performances, Unesco has named Djemaa el-Fna a World Heritage site for culture. FURTHER INFORMATION l marrakech-ville.com

ABOVE Musicians take their place in busy Djemaa el-Fna. BELOW Things hot up in the square as stallholders cook and display their dishes

WHERE TO STAY

MARRAKESH

MIDRANGE A short stroll from Djemaa el-Fna, Riad Chi-Chi (pictured above) is an oasis of calm in the heart of the Marrakesh souqs. Five lofty, cream-coloured rooms overlook a sunwashed courtyard, and there are sunbeds on the terrace, too (from US$90, including breakfast; riadchichi.com). TOP END If the medina gets too much, Les Deux Tours in the Palmeraie area of Marrakesh is the perfect retreat. Rooms with private balconies are set in secret gardens and its hammam spa is legendary (from US$245, including breakfast; les-deuxtours.com).


The Perfect Trip MOROCCO

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ESSAOUIRA

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Essaouira is 2½ hours by car or coach from Marrakesh. Three coaches a day depart from the Supratours headquarters, just west of the train station

Beach getaways don’t usually feature stone ramparts – unless of course you happen to be a Barbary pirate in Essaouira, in which case they’re handy for spotting the English Armada coming to steal sugar. From the 16th to the 19th century, the port serviced European nobility’s cravings for cake, and the whitewashed fortifications harboured unimaginable treasures in sugar and spice. Tastes have changed, as has Essaouira. Each morning, fleets of cobalt blue boats still head out from port, scattering across a vast Atlantic horizon – but now the daily haul is seabass, not sugar. The city’s main citadel today houses a contemporary art gallery, Galerie Borj, and the city’s southern gates open onto a stretch of sandy beach. Where pirates once lurked, kite surfers pass daydreamers in flowing ghandouras (traditional indigo-hued garments). Essaouira’s grand archways and wide streets were designed by French architect 52

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and POW Théodore Cornut. Legend has it that Sultan Sidi Mohammed ben Abdallah was so impressed by his design for the city, that Cornut was granted his freedom. Sunny boulevards are lined with whitewashed buildings – blank canvases interrupted only by blue window frames and awnings. Inside cupboard-sized shops, shelves are stacked with jars of ochre and purple powder. The yellow powders are saffronspice blends to make Essaouira’s signature fish tagine, but the mysterious purple pigment is what first made Essaouira’s reputation, some 2,000 years ago. Murex violet from the nearby Îles Purpuraires (Purple Islands) was the envy of Roman emperors, who bought it to dye their imperial togas, and for centuries artisans guarded the secret to extracting the valuable pigment from murex snail shells. Today, local artist Souad Attabi makes no secret of the sources for her abstract paintings depicting Berber talismans, hung at the Bab Sebaa Gallery. ‘For my work, I use henna and spices – they have a long history here, but offer fresh possibilities in painting,’ she says. Now that its glory days as the North African spice port are past, Attabi says her hometown is free to harbour big ideas. ‘Essaouira is full of meaningful pauses, empty spaces that invite the mind to wander.’ FURTHER INFORMATION l essaouira.com l club-mistral.com for surfing lessons and rentals

ABOVE A sunset view of Essaouira’s fortified medina. OPPOSITE Essaouira is awash with colour – from the natural dyes to traditional dress and the cobalt blue fishing boats in the harbour

WHERE TO STAY

ESSAOUIRA MIDRANGE Once the home of an imam (a leader in the Islamic faith), Dar Liouba lies in the heart of the medina. The rooms all lead off a central spiral staircase and are decorated in Essaouira’s trademark cobalt blue and white (from US$81; darliouba.eu). TOP END L’Heure Bleue (pictured), formerly the residence of Moroccan nobility, has been beautifully restored; rooms look onto a central courtyard where breakfast and afternoon mint tea is served and there’s a rooftop pool (from US$405; heure-bleue.com).


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HIGH ATLAS MOUNTAINS 3

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The High Atlas is four hours by taxi or hire car from Essaouira

At 4,163 metres, Jebel Toubkal looks mighty intimidating from afar, a violent act of geology fronted by a forbidding stone fort. From the 19th century until Morocco won its independence from France in 1956, the local Glaoui clan ruled the High Atlas from this foothill stronghold, often ruthlessly. Woe betide Marrakesh-bound traders who used High Atlas mountain passes without paying their dues to this family of mountain toll-keepers: goods and freedom could be forfeit to the Glaoui. But upon arrival in the village of Imlil, the highest of the High Atlas mountains seems to soften. Terraces are notched into Jebel Toubkal’s base, and tender shoots sprout from vegetable plots. Cherry and apple orchards line whispering mountain creeks, which suddenly burst into waterfalls on exposed rock faces. The dreaded Glaoui Kasbah du Toubkal is now an upscale, eco-friendly hotel. Footpaths wind gently upward to the Berber hamlet of Tamatert, wedged snugly between two stern rock faces. A trail zigzags among low-slung houses made of pisé (clay mixed with straw). Footballers all appear to be on the same team, chasing a ball down a sloped dusty pitch; a sheep on a nearby rooftop bleats a neighbourly hello. From here, goats and trekkers climb onto Jebel Toubkal’s hunched shoulders, which are freckled with pine trees planted in a reforestation initiative. A closer look reveals flowering shrubs lining the rugged passes. Knowledgeable local guides point out wild herbs: verbena, mint, rosemary, marjoram, sage, thyme, and absinthe. ‘All of these herbs are native to the High Atlas, and they serve medicinal purposes passed down by Berber families through generations,’ explains Rachida Mouch, advisor to the local Dar Taliba Berber botany project. ‘We’re trying to capture all those uses, beyond the obvious muscle balms and cold treatments. There’s so much to learn from these mountains. The closer you look at them, the more it broadens your horizons.’ FURTHER INFORMATION l For more on the Dar Taliba botany project, visit globaldiversity.org.uk

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FROM TOP The mud-brick village of Tizi n’Mzik blends in to the surrounding mountains in the Imlil valley; Rachida Mouch picks herbs from the mountains to use in medicines and balms.

WHERE TO STAY

HIGH ATLAS

MIDRANGE Stone steps lead to candlelit, wood-beamed guestrooms at Douar Samra (pictured). Donkeys deliver your luggage and aperitifs precede bountiful dinners (from US$120 half-board; douar-samra.com). TOP END A Berber-English partnership transformed historic fort Kasbah du Toubkal into a welcoming retreat with panoramic views and its own hammam and knowledgeable mountain guides (from US$180, including breakfast; kasbahdutoubkal.com).


The Perfect Trip MOROCCO

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SKOURA OASIS

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Six hours by car from Imlil, the hitching post for trekkers

By the time caravans laden with gold, sugar and spice reached Skoura, the camels were gasping. For centuries, this palm-sheltered oasis was the goal of two-month journeys across the desolate Sahara from Timbuktu. Here, blue-robed Tuareg traders offloaded their caravans, while Middle Atlas mountaineers packed it onto mules and headed north through the mountains to Fez. Elegant mud-brick towers were built to store goods and house wealthy merchants, the most famous being the 17th-century Kasbah Amridil, which appears on Morocco’s 50-dirham note as an emblem of desert trade. But although mud kasbahs dot the horizon, Skoura’s defining feature remain its Unesco-protected palm groves. ‘Traders come and go here just as they have for centuries, but the palms remain,’ says Mohamed Elkasbaoui, director of The Skoura Cultural Centre’s initiative to preserve local palm groves. ‘They make life in the desert possible.’ Walking the oasis in a palm-frond sun hat, you can see what he means. Date harvesters climb swaying palms to cut the fruit; mud bricks drying in the sun are reinforced with durable palm fibres; grandparents wait for schoolchildren in the shade of palmfringed roofs. Food, shelter and comfort all stem from these slender yet towering trees. The spice traders are long gone from Skoura, but this green oasis remains a sight for sun-dazed eyes. The 15-mile patchwork of carefully tended garden plots are watered by an ingenious, centuries-old khattara (irrigation system). The markets overflow with ripe desert produce, such as tomatoes and pomegranates, and when they close for the day and the palms cast shadows across the road, no-one seems in a hurry to leave. Life goes on as usual elsewhere, but here it remains a wonder. FURTHER INFORMATION l espaceamridil.com

FROM TOP Morning mist envelops the Skoura Oasis; Mohamed Elkasbaoui helps preserve the palm groves; Mules are essential to everyday life in the Skoura Oasis; here carrying crops from the fields

WHERE TO STAY

SKOURA OASIS MIDRANGE Overlooking Skoura’s palmery, Chez Talout offers two mud-brick guesthouses: one with simple, sunny rooms, the other with a pool and air-conditioning (from US$81; talout.com). Sawadi (pictured) is an oasis within an oasis, with nine acres of walled organic gardens, a pool, and three-course organic feasts. After local tours by bicycle, unwind with a hot hammam and a glass of white wine (from US$95 half-board; sawadi.ma).

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The Perfect Trip MOROCCO

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Fez is three hours by plane from Ouarzazate (near Skoura) via Casablanca with Royal Air Maroc, or about 300 miles (six hours) by car

In many Moroccan cities, the target souq customer is a shopaholic genie. Who else needs so many belly-dance costumes, shiny brass lamps and Day-Glo magic carpets? Not so in Fez, where entire Medina streets are devoted to thread. One kiosk does a booming trade in metallic purple braid for women’s kaftans; another specialises in pure white cotton for men’s djellabas. What about wool? Ah, that’s in a different souq. Fez is often likened to a maze, but it’s as organised as any art supply store, catering to the city’s legendary artisans and their admirers. At Place as-Seffarine and inside hidden studios, artisans hammer the final touches into masterworks from another era: silver tea services, gold filigree crowns, brass-studded bridal thrones. Ambitious artisans have long flocked to Fez to make their reputations in a medina fondouq, a courtyard complex with workshops and rental balcony rooms. In the woodworkers’ souq, a fondouq dating from 1711 has undergone a six-year renovation to become the Nejjarine Museum of Wooden Arts and Crafts. Here, ornate 13th-century Kufic carvings from Fez’s venerable Kairaouine mosque are displayed along with carved kohl (mascara) bottles. Fez past meets Fez future at Art Naji, where zellij puzzlework mosaic and Fassi blue and white ceramics are fired in kilns burning olive stones, and maâlems (master artisans) apprentice for 10 years to train the steady hand and creative eye necessary for freehand design. At maâlems’ work stations, modernity and tradition coincide: action shots of Barcelona footballers hang alongside the king’s portrait, while abstract black-and-white Berber platters sit alongside classic Arabesque tagines. ‘My grandparents started this pottery, but my father became a maâlem and built its reputation,’ says Badria Fakhari, standing in her family’s showroom. ‘Now my brother and I run the business. We’re very proud of restoring mosaics on public fountains in Fez; that’s our heritage. But maâlems need creative freedom; that’s how traditions advance.’ 56

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Fakhari breaks off to say goodbye to a Spanish student who’s spending a week at Art Naji as an apprentice ceramist. But if mastery takes a decade, what can she possibly learn in a week? ‘She’s learning how to see possibilities,’ replies Fakhari. She’s right, of course. Even a brief trip to Morocco broadens the field of vision, revealing a past worth reconsidering and a future that can always use extra finesse. FURTHER INFORMATION l riadzany.blogspot.com RIGHT, FROM TOP Pottery to be fired at Art Naji; meeting in the souq; brass for sale in Place as-Seffarine

WHERE TO STAY

FEZ

MIDRANGE Located amid Fez’s most storied monuments, seven-century-old Dar Seffarine (pictured) was abandoned before architect Alaa and his wife, Kate, restored its zellij, pillared courtyard, and wood ceilings. The couple host dinners for guests (from US$120, including breakfast; darseffarine.com). TOP END Built as a family palace in 1915 by Sidi Mohammed El Abbad, a famous judge and astrologer, La Maison Bleue has 13 rooms, all decorated with local tiles, traditional rugs and furniture (from US$205, including breakfast; maisonbleue.com). LP


MAKE IT HAPPEN

MOROCCO A trip to Morocco can transport you to another world – one with beautiful mountain landscapes, laid-back coastal retreats and lively souqs. Whether you choose to go it alone, or use tour operators or guides, we can help you plan your perfect trip MORE ON MARRAKESH…

Getting there Fly from Singapore or Kuala Lumpur to London or Madrid and take a connecting flight on Royal Air Maroc (royalairmaroc. com) or Ryanair (ryanair.com) to Marrakesh’s Menara Airport. Getting around Cover the High Atlas and Skoura Oasis by car – try Hertz (from US$75). Supratours runs buses from Marrakesh to Essaouira (from US$13; book at their office next to Marrakesh train station), and Fez can be reached by train (7 hours; seat61.com) or plane (from 3 hours).

See the best of Marrakesh from a carriage

JARDIN MAJORELLE Desert meets deco at painter Jacques Majorelle’s cactus garden and 1924 cobalt-blue villa, lovingly restored by Yves Saint Laurent and gifted to the city of Marrakesh (gardens US$5, museum US$2.50; jardinmajorelle.com; 8am-5.30pm).

EAT

MECHOUI ALLEY Step up to the tile counter across from the olive souq to request lamb pit-roasted until it shimmies off the bone (left). Enjoy with bread and cumin provided, and olives from neighbouring stalls (meals from US$5; east side, Souq Ablueh, 11am-2pm).

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From tanneries to souqs, start exploring Fez here

DO

Further reading Try Lonely Planet’s Morocco, Marrakesh Encounter, and Fez Encounter guides.

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MORE ON FEZ…

BARGAIN!

BATHA MUSEUM Housed in a 19th-century summer palace, this museum of Fassi arts and crafts has detailed embroidery and classic blue pottery dating from the 14th century (US$1.60; Place du Batha; 8am-12pm, 3pm-6pm Wed-Mon).

LA MAISON BLEUE Find out why Fez is famous for cous cous and pastry at one of the city’s top tables, located on a riad roof terrace. Make a gourmet day of it: follow lunch with an aromatic hammam and pedicure with amelou (argan-nut butter) or combine dinner with a cooking class (lunch from US$35, class & dinner from US$117; maisonbleue.com).

WORDS: ALISON BING. PHOTOGRAPHS: PHILIP LEE HARVEY, ALAMY

ESSENTIALS

Rainfall

THE FINAL WORD ‘Colored cottons hang in the air/ Charming cobras in the square/ Striped djellebas we can wear at home/Don’t you know we’re riding on the Marrakesh Express’ Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Marrakesh Express

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED IS IT SAFE TO DRIVE IN MOROCCO? Moroccan roads are notoriously winding, especially in mountains and medinas – so patience, a reliable map (such as Michelin’s Morocco map) and a sense of direction are key. If manoeuvring hairpin bends doesn’t sound like a holiday to you, take alternate transport (see Getting Around, left) or hire a driver who speaks English.

DO I NEED A GUIDE? Given the right spirit, Moroccan hospitality, and the company of fellow visitors, navigating Morocco makes an excellent adventure. You’ll get better deals when you explore souqs without guides, since merchants don’t have to pay guides commissions. If you want to focus on views rather than maps, hire a licensed local guide; consult the tour operators and/or guesthouses listed left, and expect to pay US$33 per half day.

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

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Barcelona’s best-kept secrets are often just a stone’s throw from more popular areas, such as Port Vell. RIGHT Outdoor sculptures – like Alfredo Lanz’s Homenage a la Natación, in Plaza del Mar – are a common sight

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April 2011


BARCELONA More than meets the eye Garish, gregarious Barcelona doesn’t guard its secrets jealously, but the Catalan capital does seem to get a kick from hiding the best of them in plain sight. We sample the city’s lesser-known delights WORDS TIM MOORE | PHOTOGRAPHS MATT MUNRO

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The magnificent Palau de la Música Catalana was built between 1905 and 1908 for the choral society Orfeó Català

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BARCELONA back, and the majestic old buildings are slowly being transformed into a museum and cultural centre. As befits a city that hates to go with the flow, Barcelona’s take on modernism was the ebullient antithesis of the rigidly functional interpretation that defined it elsewhere. An offshoot of art nouveau, Catalan modernisme was kick-started by the reawakening of the region’s art and language during the late 19th century, following 200 years of suppression by their Spanish overlords. Perhaps the movement’s most glorious, unshackled expression is Montaner’s Palau de la Música Catalana, a glittering confection of polychromatic glass and ceramic flora that could be Europe’s most exuberant building. ‘Every time I come in here, it’s like I forget there is a town outside,’ says Mariona Soler, who shows tour groups around the concert hall’s auditorium, overseen by a celestial, kaleidoscopic skylight of such disconcerting beauty, it once caused opera singer Montserrat Caballé to forget her lines. ‘With the flowers on the walls and the sun above, it’s like waking up in the summer countryside.’

THE GAUDÍ-FREE GUIDE TO ARCHITECTURE

ILLUSTRATION: TINA ZELLMER

T

HE amazing fin-de-siècle structures that define Barcelona are testament to an exhilaratingly peculiar phase of its cultural history, when sober, wing-collared captains of industry happily commissioned buildings inspired by melted wax and skeletons. Beyond the well-chronicled contributions of Antoni Gaudí, a host of less fêted but just as adventurous architects helped shape Barcelona in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Take Josep Puig i Cadafalch, the versatile genius with a name like a Welshman talking with his mouth full. A host of madly turretclustered townhouses pay tribute to his belief that a Catalan’s home was his castle. And not just his home: Puig i Cadafalch’s Casaramona textile plant – now the CaixaForum museum of contemporary art – looks more like some extravagant fortified palace. Walk out onto the rooftop ‘modernist terrace’ and you’ll discover that the whole flamboyant edifice is built from nothing more than house bricks. Then there’s Lluís Domènech i Montaner, whose sprawling Hospital de Sant Pau lies just up the road from Gaudí’s La Sagrada

Família, and is no less monumentally eccentric. Part Gothic cathedral, part Teutonic fortress, part sultan’s palace, its roofline is a riot of spires, beehive water towers and gaudily tiled domes, and its flanks are decorated with heraldic symbols and heroic-scale frescoes of the hospital’s benefactors. Since June 2009, the ambulances have pulled up in front of a new hospital that’s been tacked on the

l CaixaForum is open Monday to Sunday from 10am to 8pm, and on Saturdays until 10pm (free; de Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia, 6-8; Metro: Espanya; obrasocial.lacaixa.es). l Hospital de Sant Pau offers 90-minute tours in English at 10am, 11am, 12am and 1pm, daily (US$15; Sant Antoni Maria Claret, 167-171; Metro: Hospital de Sant Pau; santpau.es). l Palau de la Música Catalana has tours hourly in English from 10am to 3pm (US$18; Palau de la Música, 4-6; Metro: Urquinaona; palaumusica.cat).

Miquel Barceló’s gravity-defying Gran Elefant Dret on display at CaixaForum

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Barcelona’s cable car was built in 1929 and gives passengers a bird’s eye view of the city and harbour

SEE BARCELONA AND DIE

A

RIDE by funicular and cable car up to Montjuïc Castle lays a famously vibrant city out at your feet, and a brisk walk along the hilltop behind delivers its eerie antithesis. Filling a whole flank of mountain, the Cementiri del Sud-Oest is a bona fide necropolis – a perpendicular city of death hewn into the living rock, so vast it has its own bus route.

One of the exhibits at the Museu de Carrosses Fúnebres – white hearses like this were used for children and virgins

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Since 1883 Barcelona’s bereaved have come here to inter their great and good, along with their bad and ugly: poets, artists and anarcho-syndicalists; industrialists in pocket cathedrals created by Montaner and Puig i Cadafalch; gypsy gangsters beneath life-sized marble depictions of their open-shirted Elvis prime. The tombs once looked out at a silent sea, but today there’s a great clanking container port in between, a surreal counterpoint to the whispering relatives who come to pay their respects. ‘The people who made Barcelona so beautiful, so special, they also wanted to make a show when they died,’ says Josep

Diaz, curator of the Museu de Carrosses Fúnebres. It’s due to move to Montjuïc in the next few years, but for now the world’s only museum of funerary ornamentation lies buried in the basement of the civic morgue. Given the location, it’s perhaps not surprising that the authorities seem a little reluctant to promote its existence: ask at a couple of reception desks and you’ll eventually be escorted downstairs by a guard, who’ll unlock a few doors, turn on a few lights and follow you alone into the shadow of death. The experience justifies this portentous build-up – the museum is an extraordinary insight into Barcelona’s baroque way of death, a black-plumed homage to morbid magnificence. The most compelling exhibits are the ornate horsedrawn hearses that ferried 19th-century notables on their final journeys to the dark side of Montjuïc. If the guard hasn’t transmogrified or turned to stone, ask them to point out the black-curtained carriage that allowed a mistress to attend a funeral in respectful anonymity. l Cementiri del Sud-Oest is open from 8am-6pm daily and can be reached by taking the funicular and cable car to Castell de Montjuïc (Carrer Mare de Déu del Port 56-58, Montjuïc). l Museu de Carrosses Fúnebres is open from 10am-1pm and 4pm-6pm weekdays, and from 10am-1pm weekends (free; 00 34 93 484 1700; Carrer de Sancho d’Àvila, 2; Metro: Marina).


BARCELONA Imposing Cementiri del Sud-Oest covers 56 hectares and is home to a number of deceased writers and artists, including the surrealist Joan Mir贸

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Grand Hotel Central’s pool offers great views of the city. RIGHT The El Avión ride has been at Tibidabo since 1928

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BARCELONA

O

THE ONLY WAY IS UP THER than a few glass towers on the reclaimed docklands and a token Gherkin-esque downtown phallus, Barcelona remains a pleasingly low-rise city. This explains why the Grand Hotel Central’s ninth-floor roof terrace feels more like a helicopter pad atop Dubai’s Burj Al-Arab. Butted up against the cathedral towers and construction cranes, the infinity pool beside the terrace bar exudes all the dizzying wrongness of a Dalí dreamscape. In general, looking down on Barcelona means going up one of the peaks that girdle the city. The creaky attractions at the amusement park on Mount Tibidabo might

seem underwhelming on paper, but even a modest Ferris wheel gets the pulse racing when it’s 110 years old and perched on top of a 500-metre-high cliff. ‘I’ve been to modern parks with big rides,’ says Carolina Andreu, a student on a history field trip at Tibidabo. ‘But this place feels for me more authentic, maybe even more dangerous!’ Her favourite ride is El Avión, a giddying spin over the city in a wobbly period replica of the plane that plied Spain’s first ever passenger route. The park is another legacy of that turn-of-the-century golden age and comes accessorised with a Gothicrocketship chapel, the Sagrat Cor, as well as a funicular railway that connects with the ‘blue tram’ into town. Proud as they are of their hilltop vistas, the locals seem unaware of the unique 360-degree views available from the

mid-town summit of the Parc del Guinardó. That might have something to do with access issues, as the park and its nearest Metro station are separated by umpteen flights of stairs. The gardens were laid out in 1913 by Jean-Claude Forestier – who designed the Champs-de-Mars behind the Eiffel Tower – then promptly forgotten. For anyone with the physical wherewithal, the pick of the park’s prospects – amongst them the best view by far of the Sagrada Família – is down from the old Civil War-era anti-aircraft batteries atop the highest crest. l Grand Hotel Central (Via Laietana, 30; Metro: Jaume I; grandhotelcentral.com). l Tibidabo opens weekends from midday to 9pm. Take the Metro to Av. Tibidabo, then Tramvia Blau (Blue Tram) and Tibidabo Funicular (tibidabo.es). l Parc del Guinardó’s nearest Metro is Guinardó.

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Mixing drinks at Coctelería Boadas. RIGHT Serving up a milky treat at Granja M Viader

SAY NO TO CAVA AND CERVEZA

T

HERE’S hardly a shortage of bars in town, and on a warm summer’s night it’s difficult to resist the lure of the nearest free table and cold bottle. But resist it you should: chances are that one of Barcelona’s

Take your pick of cider, cider and yet more cider at La Sucarrena

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finest watering holes lies close at hand, hiding its neon light under a bushel. Take Coctelería Boadas, hard up against La Rambla and right in the eye of the tourist storm, it’s dark, anonymous and overlooked. Barcelona’s first cocktail bar, it was opened in 1933 by Miguel Boadas, who’d learned his trade mixing up Hemingway’s daiquiris at El Floridita in Havana. The louche sophistication he cultivated survives: jaded roués and glam couples, all having a stylish stiffener in a triangle of deco panelling, rich with the patina of rare old nights gone by. There’s no menu, each of the bar staff holding the recipe to 680 cocktails in his head. These days, the supervisory presence is Miguel’s daughter Maria Dolores, who, at 75, is an immaculately turned-out fixture. ‘What we do here is like an art,’ she says. ‘I once heard my father say to an actor, “What you do on the stage, I do at this bar.”’ A couple of left turns away is a rather more wholesome time warp – Granja M Viader, a family-run milk bar that’s been lining local stomachs since 1870. Spain’s leading brand of sickly-sweet chocolate milk was concocted here, but the current Viader signature drink is a Llet Mallorquin, an improbably successful blend of cinnamon, lemon juice, sugar and milk. Just up the road lies the splendidly dishevelled Bar Marsella, late-night hangout of choice for the city’s bohemians and, um, colourful street characters since

1820. As befits the ambience – cobwebbed bottles, peeling varnish, chairs that Picasso and Miró might have wielded in a bar brawl – the house speciality is absinthe. A glass of green death, a sugar cube and a box of matches: if you don’t know how to combine these ingredients, you’ve most probably come to the wrong place. Towards the docks, Barcelona’s neat grid of boulevards fractures into a crazy-paved compaction of ancient alleys. Bar-crawling around here after dark is a navigational challenge: the key is to find the Carrer de la Mercè, and then stay on it. This tight cleft through the steepling old warehouses is clustered with bars that date back to the drunken sailor’s heyday. La Sucarrena is a hole-in-the-wall sidrería whose USP remains as it ever was: drink anything you like, as long as it’s a large bottle of Asturian cider. The fizz-free scrumpy is a neat fit with the barrel-vaulted interior, and with the hearty tapas on offer, flambéed at your table with pyromaniacal relish. l Boadas Coctelería is open from 12pm-2am, Monday to Saturday (00 34 93 318 9592; Carrer dels Tallers, 1; Metro: Catalunya). l Bar Marsella is open from 10pm-2.30am daily (Carrer de Sant Pau, 65; Metro: Liceu). l Granja M Viader is open from 9am-1.30pm and 5pm-8.30pm Tue-Sat, 5pm-8.30pm Mon (Carrer d'en Xucla, 4-6; Metro: Liceu; granjaviader.cat). l La Sucarrena is open until 2am daily (Carrer de la Mercè, 21; Metro: Jaume 1).


BARCELONA

Bar Marsella’s dusty, bottlelined interior is little changed since the days when Picasso used to stop by

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BARCELONA

FEAST YOUR EYES AND FILL YOUR BELLY

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CITY studded with a whole constellation of Michelin stars, Barcelona is also home to some delicious restaurant interiors. Being hidden away down a side street probably helped 1960s throwback Flash Flash survive intact through the decades when aloof minimalism dictated restaurant design, and resembling an orbiting tortilleria from Kubrick’s 2001 wasn’t a bankable look. Now its time has come again, with a new generation of native hipsters marvelling at the monochrome majesty of a restaurant unchanged since fashion photographer Leopoldo Pomés opened it in 1970 – that Catalan Twiggy strutting her stuff on the walls was his wife. The staff – and most of the diners – are dressed in black-and-white in sympathy, and it’s probably no accident that by far the most popular of the 80 immaculately presented tortillas on the menu is the colour-coded morcilla de arroz de Burgos: black sausage and white rice. In an even quieter part of town lies Tapioles 53, a restaurant so understated it chooses not to identify itself in any way: dinner is by reservation only, and you must ring a bell to gain entry. The muted, lofty interior thus revealed feels almost ecclesiastical, but is in fact an old umbrella factory: the route to the loo offers a view of the boss’s old office. Nothing restrained about the food, though, concocted with adventurous élan by Australian-born chef and owner Sarah Stothart. ‘The Catalans are pretty conservative about cooking,’ she says, running through a menu which changes daily, depending on what’s taken her fancy at Santa Caterina market that morning. ‘They have wonderful ingredients, but are scared to do anything new with them. That’s where I come in.’ Indeed: you suspect that Tapioles 53 is alone in sprinkling many of its offerings with a blend of ground toffee and pork crackling (‘I call it gold dust,’ says Sarah). Her most fabled creations are her palatecaressing gnocchi, fashioned largely from goat’s cheese made by nuns. ‘You’ve got to eat them whole,’ she orders. ‘If I see anyone cutting one in half, I’ll go and hit them.’

Flash Flash serves tortillas (below left) in a retro setting. BELOW RIGHT The elegantly understated interior of Tapioles 53

l Flash Flash is open daily from 1pm-1.30am (00 34 93 237 0990; Carrer de la Granada del Penedès, 25; Metro: Gràcia). l Tapioles 53 opens Tuesday to Saturday, 9pm-12am, and booking is essential (Carrer de Tapioles, 53; Metro: Poble Sec; tapioles53.com). LP

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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011


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BETTYS KITSCHEN, HONG KONG Famed for championing Cantonese cuisine in the UK with his Michelin-starred London restaurants, Hakkasan and Yauatcha, Hong Kong-born restaurateur Alan Yau has returned to his homeland and opened up an European brasserie. Bettys Kitschen, kitschen being a portmanteau of the word “kitsch” and “kitchen”, provides a retro experience, offering an all-day eclectic dining with culinary influences from the old world and new, bringing together an assortment of signature dishes from Europe and adding a quirky twist. Shop 2075, Podium Level two, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong. Tel: 852/2979-2100; www.bettys.com.hk

SILKS, CROWN, MELBOURNE Crown’s premier Chinese restaurant, Silks, has re-opened, featuring additional private dining rooms, the introduction of a semi-private dining room in the restaurant’s iconic Mongolian silk tent. The new menu boasts a wider range of dishes from Northern China and Shanghai, including tossed jellyfish head with Chinese aged vinegar and garlic, sweet and sour short ribs marinated with herbs, braised sea cucumber with fresh leek in dark soy, wok-fried lamb fillets as well as an enhanced selection of teas.

MORTON’S OF CHICAGO THE STEAKHOUSE words JOYCE HUANG

For over three decades, Morton’s of Chicago, The Steakhouse has earned an unmatched reputation world-wide for fine quality dining, service and elegance. Apart from its award-winning steak, using USDA grain-fed Prime-aged beef no less, Morton’s also serves up some spectacular seafood. In fact, due to popular demand, Morton’s will be extending its Steak and Seafood set menu until 30 September 2011. Available in Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore, the menu’s

first course is a choice of either Caesar salad or Morton’s salad, followed by a Single Cut Filet Mignon and a choice from broiled sea scallops wrapped in bacon with apricot chutney, colossal Shrimp Alexander with Beurre Blanc sauce or jumbo lump crab cake with mustard mayonnaise. In Macau only, the menu also includes a dessert choice from Morton’s legendary hot chocolate cake, key lime pie or crème brulee. The menu is priced at HK$688 in Hong Kong, MOP688 in Macau and S$108 in Singapore.

Shop1016 The Grand Canal Shoppes, The Venetian MacaoResor-Hotel, Estrada da Baia de N. Senhora da Esperanca, s/n, The Cotai Strip, Taipa, Macao. Tel: 853/8117-5000

For a full culinary experience like no other, head to the newly opened DiVine Resturant, Wine Cellar & Cooking School inside Thanyapura, Phuket, where you can dine on organic gourmet dishes like the roasted free-range chicken marinated with grilled vegetable tabouli in a coriander and mint dressing,

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and homemade cake and ice cream; sip the world’s finest biodynamic wines; and then learn to make Thai and Western dishes using fresh organic produce from a nearby farm. 120/1 Moo 7 Thepkasattri Road, Thepkasattri, Thalang, Phuket, Thailand. Tel: 66-76/336-000; www.thanyapura.com

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From a wild idea to an actual manifestation, LOVE SG has designed a series of Singaporecentric merchandise suitable as a souvenir or for personal use. The translation of quirky ideas into attractive designs is palpable through one of its sleek luggage tags that scream Singapore.

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MAKE IT HAPPEN

BARCELONA

ESSENTIALS Getting there Singapore Airlines (singaporeair.com) flies direct from Singapore to Barcelona. A taxi to the city centre costs around US$30.

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The Catalan capital never fails to deliver. Rich in architecture, history and culture, it’s also hip and exciting when it comes to café culture and nightlife, and is pure heaven for dining out

Look out for Gaudí’s two lampposts in the Plaça Reial

WAYS TO DO IT…

Getting around

Stay at modern Chic & Basic

Budget

Climate 30

100

24

80

18

60

12

40

6

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Luxury

BARGAIN! Close to La Rambla’s top end, CHIC & BASIC is a perfect fit for Barcelona – a slick hotel with bold colours set against a backdrop of minimalist white. Hi-tech fittings round out a stylish package (from US$135; chicandbasic.com).

At BARCELÓ RAVAL the views from the massive windows are among the city’s best. Asplash with lime greens and ruby reds, the white rooms have plasma-screen TVs and open-plan bathrooms (from US$160; barceloraval.com).

Sleek and stylish HOTEL OMM resembles an ultra-modern take on Gaudí’s flights of architectural fancy. Accessories range from projector TVs to kimonos for making your way to the rooftop pool (from US$295; hotelomm.es).

EAT

ACONTRALUZ takes the freshest market ingredients, with a global play on local flavours, in delicacies such as pig’s trotters stuffed with mushrooms and foie gras (meals US$28–US$55; acontraluz.com).

PETIT COMITÉ is traditionally Catalan at heart, serving hearty Pyrenean stews and seafood-rich rice dishes. The dining area, from the patio to the greenery and artworks, is cool and contemporary (mains from US$22; petitcomite.cat).

FONDA GAIG (right) plays subtly with traditional Catalan dishes like sautéed scallops (meals from US$81; fondagaig.com).

DRINK TAPAS

Visit GRANJA DE GAVÀ (right) in the colourful El Raval district for cocktails and poetry (Carrer Joaquín Costa 37).

Catalonia’s cava is the toasting tipple of choice throughout Spain, and XAMPANY is one of its finest purveyors. An Aladdin’s cave of cava, it serves as a shrine to this finest of drinks (Carrer de València 200).

SHOP

TUTUSAUS is an integral part of Barcelona’s culinary traditions with its carefully selected international products – raw-milk cheese from Toulouse, rare Iranian caviar and cured meats from Huelva in Andalucía (tutusaus.com).

If one clothing shop captures the city’s avant-garde spirit, it has to be CUSTO BARCELONA and its daring style (custo-barcelona.com).

SLEEP

mm

J F M A M J J A S O N D

Temp max/min

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Rainfall

THE FINAL WORD ‘There is where it all began… There is where I understood how far I could reach.’ Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Quimet i Quimet’s tiny bar

Mid-range

Further reading Lonely Planet’s Barcelona City Guide (US$19.99) is a detailed guide to the city, and Barcelona Encounter (US$12.99) is a pocket-sized version. For events, see barcelonaturisme.com.

Petit Comité has patio dining

BARGAIN!

The tiny, bottle-lined den QUIMET I QUIMET specialises in gourmet tapas. The cheeses and razor clams have few peers, backed by fine wines and house speciality Belgian beer (Carrer Poeta Cabanyès 25). Designer homeware stores are a Barcelona speciality, but AGAINST pillages the past for inspiration in its retro furniture (againstbcn.com).

WORDS: ANTHONY HAM, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM CHRISTA LARWOOD AND DAMIEN SIMONIS. PHOTOGRAPHS: CORBIS, MATT MUNRO

Barcelona’s extensive Metro system is the quickest way to get around. Ten-trip tickets (valid also on buses) cost US$11 (tmb.cat).


The spectacle of La Sagrada Família lends Barcelona a fairytale quality

3 OF THE BEST: GAUDÍ ICONS LA SAGRADA FAMÍLIA This soaring Modernista cathedral (left) is indisputably Gaudí’s greatest work, so it’s a shame he never got to see it completed. It’s been under construction since 1882 and is still a glorious work in progress. It features towering spires, delicate mosaics and artful sculpture on an epic scale. And we ain’t seen nothing yet: only eight of the Sagrada’s 18 spires have been built (US$11; sagradafamilia.org).

PARC GÜELL Gaudí was also quite the gifted landscape gardener, as his masterpiece Parc Güell (above) shows. Sculptures set in beautifully kept natural surroundings create a garden with all the feel of Alice’s Wonderland. The spired, pink-hued house is where the great man lived for most of his last 20 years – now the Casa Museu Gaudí (park admission free, museum US$6; Carrer d’Olot 7).

WELCOME TO GAUDÍ TOWN There’s a lot more to Barcelona than its famed Gaudí buildings and sculptures, but no trip to the city would be complete without seeing the works of its favourite son GAUDÍ THE GREAT Barcelona’s most famous son, the architect known as Gaudí, continues to be revered around the world as one of the most original artists of his age, or of any age. He was born Antoni Plàcid Guillem Gaudí i Cornet in 1852, and his flair for the unusual was evident early in his career – when he was awarded his architectural diploma in 1878. The director of his school allegedly said, ‘Who knows if we have given this diploma to a nut or to a genius? Time

will tell.’ His first commission came when he won a competition to design two street lamps for Barcelona’s Plaça Reial. You can still see these in situ today; there are a number of lampposts in the square, but you should have no difficulty spotting Gaudí’s designs, with their bewinged lamps and striking looks. From that moment, Gaudí’s career took off, helped by his patron, Eusebi Güell, who commissioned a number of works, the eponymous park amongst them. As his fame

grew, Gaudí became obsessed by his creations and moved into the crypt of La Sagrada Família so he could focus on the building without distraction. Isolated from the world, his appearance deteriorated so much, he was often mistaken for a vagrant. In 1926, he was hit by a tram, and passers-by, unwilling to help a man they took to be a tramp, left him in the street; he died in hospital three days later. Despite his sad end, Gaudí’s memory lives on in his whimsical buildings that still define the city.

CASA BATLLÓ AND LA PEDRERA Gaudí’s reputation was also built on several old buildings throughout the city. La Pedrera has a striking façade, elaborate wrought-iron balconies and a troop of giant chimney pots that look like multi-coloured medieval knights (US$11; Passeig de Gràcia 92). Casa Batlló (above) was remodelled as a home for textile manufacturer Josep Batlló from 1904-1906 (US$25; Passeig de Gràcia 43; casabatllo.es).

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Hanoi confidential

Hanoi street fare is more than just a steamy bowl of pho, freshly baked baguettes, and robust coffee. The better portion lurks in the maze of narrow side streets and alleyways. Therein reside foodie haunts and well-hidden delicacies. Beware that the search for these hidden gems will require some patience, comfy shoes and, a pocket-sized phrasebook. Writer Nga Hoang tracks down her top seven hidden eateries and cafes in her native town. WORDS NGA HOANG | PHOTOGRAPHS DAVE LEMKE

Dinh Cafe & Giang Cafe Dinh & Giang are two exceptional hole-in-the-wall cafes in Hanoi. They both share a three-generation coffee trade family legacy, dating back to the French colonial occupation. Each has a secret recipe for brewing and roasting coffee passed down from their late father, Mr. Giang, who used to work at the Metropole hotel as a bartender in the 1920s and later opened his own cafes. Free of signs, Dinh Cafe is nestled surreptitiously behind a backpack shop at the north end of Hoan Kiem Lake. It is the longest-running student cafe helmed by the family’s second daughter. And it is old to its core: a 30 square metre room blasting 80’s rock music and always filled with thick plumes of cigarette smoke that seem to linger on and seep into its walls. If you prefer some fresh air, step out onto the balcony to take in a magnificent view of Hoan Kiem Lake. Either way, time almost approaches a standstill as you sit there; the minutes pass by as slowly as the coffee brews one drop at a time through a filter. The proprietor, Mrs. Bich, was a high-school teacher for nearly twenty years but quit for health reasons and opened Dinh Cafe in 1984. In its 90s heyday, word of mouth brought the influx of Hanoi’s student population and it has since maintained a firm fan base. Almost three decades on, what began as a family’s livelihood has now evolved into a source of pride and pleasure. This age-old cafe stands defiantly as a resistance to change and draws on what is left of ‘old’ Hanoi. Mrs. Bich uses coffee beans from Buon Ma Thuot in the Central Highlands, Vietnam’s largest coffeegrowing region. Her husband spends much of his 72

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time visiting coffee plantations and carefully picking the finest coffee beans. Mrs. Bich then creates her own blend of ground coffee using half Arabica and half Robusta so the coffee is strong yet not bitter. Meanwhile, the aptly named Giang Cafe is largely conceived as a place where the proprietor, Mr. Hoa, shares memories of his deceased father. Tucked away down a nondescript passage into a little courtyard, Giang Cafe looks like a luxuriant garden surrounded by home-grown, potted plants. Many people pop into Giang Cafe only to have the house specialty: a cafe trung (hot coffee with a raw egg and milk whipped into it), otherwise known as a Vietnamese offshoot of the cappuccino. For coffee aficionados, the distinct drink tends to inspire either love it or hate it relationships. Mr. Hoa uses a blend of beans: Rubusta, Liberica and Arabica. He prefers to use Arabica coffee beans from the lesser-known region of Phu Quy in the northern province of Nghe An, known for its distinctly rich flavours. Upon roasting the coffee, he sprays a little bit of rum over it in order to stimulate the aroma. Following the success of his cafe trung, Mr. Hoa has made some other renditions including cacao trung (cocoa), dau xanh trung (green beans), rum trung (using Cuban rum only), and bia trung (using 333 premium beer only). FAST FACTS l Cafe trung US$0.75; Rum trung US$1.50 l Dinh Cafe13 Dinh Tien Hoang, Hoan Kiem District; 84 4 3824 2960 l Giang Cafe: 39 Nguyen Huu Huan, Hoan Kiem District; 84 4 6294 0495

OPPOSITE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT Giang Cafe’s speciality, cafe trung; Mr Hoa of Giang Cafe; customers playing chinese checkers in Giang Cafe; Mrs Bich on Dinh Cafe’s balcony, overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake


HANOI

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Bar Betta Resto-Bar/Cafe

Housed in a renovated French Villa along the short stretch of Cao Ba Quat Street, and a welcome respite among the street’s hotpot stalls and motorbike repair shops, Bar Betta bar-cum-cafe is a must-visit for nostalgists and vintage collectors alike. The name Bar Betta plays on the name Babetta, a model of the Czech motorbike that used to fill the streets of Hanoi in the early 80s. Bar Betta is the brainchild of three best friends Hai, Quang and Cuong. Hai, an interior designer, spent a couple of months working painstakingly to restore the building to its original state. Many different families previously occupied it during the Subsidy Period of 1976-1986, resulting in the building losing its character and grandeur. Hai later took on the daunting task of converting the residential building into a refreshment bar. As an avid vintage collector of furniture and knickknacks, Hai’s collection of vintage goodies was beginning to clutter his house, so he decided to turn Bar Betta into a public showroom. Up a long flight of stairs, you emerge into a living room that harks back to the bygone Subsidy Period. The room brims with antique home furnishings: a grandfather clock, a Danda radio, a Victor phonograph, and a rusty typing machine that has seen much better days in Ba Dinh Square. On the lime green walls hang old vinyl records and posters of iconic moviestars of yesteryear. With soothing jazz playing on the sound system, it is like hopping on a time machine and going back to the swinging ‘60s and ‘70s. Bar Betta has something that few other bars in Hanoi offer: bespoke cocktails. Bartender Cuong 74

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alludes to his fruit concoctions as being like a lush meadow filled with natural flavours. The menu changes on a monthly basis, largely depending on what is available in a particular season. Bar Betta’s signature though, are its cocktail beers – a blend of 5 percent beer and various fruits, juices and liquor. Out of the seven available varieties, I recommend Peach Beer made from Carlsberg draught beer, blue Curacao, Calvados cognac, and peach liqueur; and Punch Beer made from draught beer, coffee liqueur, and Vaccari Sambuca. FAST FACTS: l Average price for cocktail beer US$4.75 l 34C Cao Ba Quat, Ba Dinh District; 84 4 3734 9134

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP The eclectic decor of Bar Betta features owner Hai’s vintage furniture collection; Owners Hai, Quang and Cuong; Bartender Cuong mixing up a drink


HANOI PARIS

Le Croissant

With Vietnam a former French colony, it comes as no surprise that Hanoi is home to some of the best patisseries outside of France. In an unlikely backstreet just off Tran Hung Dao Street sits a French-style patisserie. Le Croissant is hailed as one of the city’s best and unrivalled bakeries, serving bona fide French-style croissants and pastries. It is operated as a social enterprise under the management of Hoa Sua, a Hanoi-based cooking school that offers vocational training primarily designed for disadvantaged teenagers. Although the Vietnamese capital has its fair share of deli bakeries, few stand as strong. Le Croissant’s established reputation is closely tied to its unwavering commitment to stay true to the French standard of baking. Since its opening in 1995, Le Croissant has relocated several times before settling down where it is now. Each time, the crowd followed. In the early mornings, Le Croissant is a hive of activity. Motorbikes and cars, one by one, squeeze into the quiet, narrow street and crowd the shop front, fighting for space with the minivans waiting for bags of wheat flour to be unloaded from its trunks. The air is filled with the unmistakable and tantalising smell of freshly baguettes. Inside the shop, trays of pastries, fresh out of the oven, are rushed out every few minutes, struggling to replenish the row upon row of goodies on offer as quickly as they are swept up by hungry customers. I’ve tried the Tiramisu topped with cinnamon powder and slathered with rich cream and cheese, but my favourite is Tarte Au Citron (a traditional French lemon tart) delicately perfumed with butter and lemon. It melts in the mouth after the very first bite. Of the 250 baked goods available, the best sellers are croissants, baguettes, tiramisu, and fruit tarts. The clientele base is equally split between expats and locals. Le Croissant also offers a popular a two-week crash course in baking (US$150 to US$250). FIND OUT MORE l Croissant US$0.05; Seigle US$1.25; Tiramisu US$1.20; Cheesecake US$1.20; Tarte Au Citron US$0.05; Tarte Coco Au Chocolat US$1.20 l 21 Ha Hoi St, Hoan Kiem; 84 4 3943 6707; hoasuaschool.com

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP Freshly baked loaves on offer at Le Croissant every morning; contemplating the various choices; baking a new batch of cinnamon rolls


Truong Xuan Tea House Truong Xuan Tea House is so well hidden that I would never have found it had I not been lost and stumbled upon it accidentally. Judging by its appearance, it could easily be dismissed as just another Chinese teahouse. But there is more to it than meets the eye, for the story of this teahouse tells of a hard-fought battle for the survival of traditional Vietnamese tea that spans six generations. When I tiptoed into the room, I found myself immersed in a tranquil retreat. It is a world away from the frenetic hubbub of city life. Its quaint appeal echoes everywhere: a bamboo hut reminiscent of summer days in the countryside, a birdcage dangling in the breeze, and walls adorned with traditional calligraphy. The tearoom is scattered with carved, low wooden tables and cushioned seats. I dawdled over my jasmine tea and opened my ears to Anh Suong, the youngest son of Xuan Truong, the country’s most respected tea guru. The father-and-son team have devoted much of their lives to researching and promoting homegrown tea. The Vietnamese tea industry took shape in the late 19th century when the French seized control of the country. It was then that the first tea plantations were established in northern Vietnam. Nowadays, Vietnamese tea is cultivated on the steep slopes of the remote mountains stretching from Thai Nguyen to Lam Dong in the Central Highlands. Hanoi has a thriving tea culture with makeshift

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roadside tea stalls littered across the city. If you have reservations gulping down tea on the street, you’ll be glad to know that there has been a recent proliferation of upscale teahouses in Hanoi. Truong Xuan Tea House opened in 2001, when the popularity of Vietnamese tea was suffering due to widespread rumours of pesticide residues in the leaves and the influx of foreign tea brands like Lipton and Dilmah. Since then Suong and his father have stepped up their efforts to restore Vietnamese tea to the status it deserves while reviving tea-drinking customs that have begun to fade away over time. Suong demonstrated how Hanoians make their own cuppa. He started off by warming the teapot with boiling water. Then he placed spoonfuls of dried tea leaves into the porcelain pot and waits for it to brew. After a few minutes, he poured it out in a tea pitcher and from that into small cups. With an equal amount of tea, every cup tastes the same. But just as important as the ceremony is the way Vietnamese people drink tea. With a steamy cup of tea in hand, Suong gently looks into it, sniffs and takes a few small sips, just like a sommelier. Truong Xuan Tea House has rounded up a superb collection of forty assorted tea samples, mostly handmade. It is divided into three main groups: green, herbal and floral teas. Lotus tea (fresh lotus blossoms blended with green tea leaves), known as royal tea, is the most expensive (previously a kilogram of lotus tea was the equivalent of 10.25 grams of gold) and, despite the price, is the most sought-after.

ABOVE Truong Xuan Tea House owner Suong amidst lotus petals

FAST FACTS: l A cup of tea US$1.25 to US$2.25 l 13 Ngo Tat To, Dong Da; 84 4 3911 0104

LEFT Suong demonstrating how to serve tea, Vietnamese-style


HANOI

O Quan Chuong Snail Noodle Soup This humble noodle soup stall lurks inconspicuously at the corner of a roadside bistro facing the historic city gate O Quan Chuong at the junction of Hang Chieu St and Tran Nhat Duat St. You could easily walk past it every day without ever acknowledging that it was there at all. Slow down a bit and the inviting aroma wafting from bowls of snail noodle soup will inform you that you’re at the right place. Up close, many young hip Hanoians crouch down on low footpath stools slurping down the bun oc and shouting out: “One more bowl!” This unassuming stall sells the very classic bun oc nguoi (cold snail noodle soup), a specialty from Hanoi, and it is probably the most underrated breakfast treat in Vietnam no thanks to all the pho hype. This dish is not for those who want to fill up their bellies but rather it is a dish for those who are looking to savour a unique combination of textures and flavours in a modest portion. Bun oc is simply comprised of only a plate of packed rice vermicelli and a small bowl of boiled snails and soup; no green

onions, basil leaves or tomato sauce. Less is more in this case as the absence of embellishments allows the flavours of the boiled snail broth to take centrestage. By noon, the soup stall gets a little less busy. The proprietor Ms. Xuan unveiled the secrets behind her soup: quality ingredients. The rice vermicelli is made out of freshly ground rice that costs twice as much as ordinary rice. Ms. Xuan only uses earthbound molluscs that live on rock moss in Ninh Binh province, and which cost twice as much as freshwater snails. Most importantly, the rice vinegar is made out of fermented, sticky rice with yellow flowers from Van village. She cooks the snails in a stew redolent with rice vinegar bubbling away and out comes a perfect blend of spicy, sweet and sour flavours in one bowl. FAST FACTS: l A bowl of bun oc (hot and cold) US$1 l 1 Hang Chieu, Hoan Kiem; 84 4 3625 1165. Breakfast only

FROM LEFT The main ingredient of the bun oc nguoi – the humble snail; the unassuming noodle soup stall is easily bypassed by the uninformed

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HANOI

Restaurant 1946 Whenever I crave Vietnamese food, 1946 is always my first port of call. Cosily nestled in a small alley, just 10 metres off Cua Bac Street, Restaurant 1946 has two floors; the first with just a few tables and the second with floor seating only. Opened in 2007, the clientele is almost 90 percent locals. The restaurant serves up pure traditional Hanoi fare at reasonable prices, a welcome anomaly amid Hanoi’s burgeoning trend in fusion cuisine. Originally known for sophistication, subtlety of flavour and small portions, Hanoi cuisine has morphed into a culinary melting pot with an influx of flavours from neighbouring provinces and beyond. One of the traditional Hanoian delicacies, bun rieu (broth with crab, tomato and fermented shrimp paste), is now a melange of North and Central Vietnam in one bowl, with a blend of beef, tofu, cha gio (pork meat loaf or Vietnamese sausage), and trung vit lon (fertilised duck egg). The young owners Nam and Kien have teamed up with local historians in an attempt to keep traditional Hanoian gastronomy alive. The historical benchmark of 1946, as Kien explains, is largely a reference to the declaration of independence of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, something not only evident in the restaurant’s décor but also in the food. The entire restaurant oozes retro vibes of Indochinese Hanoi in the 1940s. The walls are adorned with the reprints of old Hanoian postcard photos, taken by the French in the 1900s. I was personally drawn to the cracked bowls and plates that are used, which would have been what my grandparent’s had in their homes. The owners spent almost three years collecting antique housewares in Bac Giang and Thai Binh provinces. The menu of over 100 dishes is a compilation of flowery prose and poems. Every dish is paired with a literary description of the dish’s origins. I always start off with lac rang (roasted peanuts peppered with salt and chilli powder) and dua muoi (pickled cabbage sprinkled with salt, sugar, garlic and chilli). These two dishes are always at hand in a Vietnamese family meal. The saltiness of lac rang and the sour and sweet crunchiness of dua muoi is a refreshing way to start a meal. Next up, dau phu tam hanh (deep-fried tofu topped with green onions) slathered in fish sauce. This dish is a simple yet exquisite blend: crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. And then, the be sua Moc Chau (stir-fried diced veal mixed with chilli, lemongrass, and lime) a sumptuous delicacy and appetising mix of tart and spiciness. But my favourite dish has to be the canh chua thit bam (sour 78

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soup with minced pork), as its soothing flavour is always a delicious and nostalgic reminder of home. For those of you who are hankering for a real taste of Vietnamese cuisine, look no further than 1946. FIND OUT MORE l Lac rang (roasted peanut) US$0.75; dua muoi (salted cabbage pickles) US$1; canh chua thit bam (sour soup) US$2.30; dau phu tam hanh (tofu with green onions) US$1.75; be sua Moc Chau (Moc Chau stir-fried veal) US$6.40 l 3 Yen Thanh Alley, 61 Cua Bac Street, Ba Dinh; 84 4 6296 1946

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP Nam, one of the owners of Restaurant 1946; Mandatory appetisers in a Vietnamese Meal, roasted peanuts and pickled cabbage; Restuarant 1946 serves up simple and authentic Hanoian dishes like stir-fried diced veal


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MAKE IT HAPPEN

HANOI

Graceful and atmospheric, yet pulsating with energy, Hanoi is a city of sharp contrast but instant appeal. Its sweeping boulevards, tree-fringed lakes, ancient pagodas and compact historic centre is best explored on foot

ESSENTIALS Getting there From Singapore, fly direct to Hanoi with Singapore Airlines (singaporeair.com), Tiger Airways (tigerairways. com) and Vietnam Airlines (vietnamairlines.com). AirAsia (airasia.com), Malaysia Airlines (malaysiaairlines.com) and Vietnam Airlines fly direct from Kuala Lumpur. Getting around Hanoi’s traffic is famously chaotic. Taxis are the best way to travel long distances, but cyclos, though slowly phasing out, are a cheap way to make shorter trips. For lone travellers, motorbike drivers can be found virtually everywhere. Always negotiate fares beforehand. Further reading Lonely Planet’s guide to Vietnam (US$24.99) has a chapter on Hanoi (US$4.95), which can be downloaded from lonelyplanet.com

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THE FINAL WORD ‘A day of travelling will bring a basketful of learning’ – Vietnamese proverb

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WORDS: JOYCE HUANG WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM IAIN STEWART PHOTOGRAPHS: DAVE LEMKE; 123RF ILLUSTRATION: DEBBIE DING

Climate 50


STAYING THERE BUDGET Trying harder than most bog-standard budget places, Especen Hotel has a great location near St Joseph Cathedral. The big, airy and light rooms – most with balcony and all with wi-fi – are in good shape and, while the location is almost tranquil. The two branches are a few doors apart and have identical facilities (from US$15; especen.vn; 28 P Tho Xuong & 41 P Ngo Huyen). MID-RANGE Cinnamon Hotel is a hip new hotel with outstanding design, combining the historic features of the building – wrought-ironwork and window shutters – with Japanese-influenced interiors and modern gadgetry. Of the six rooms, all with balcony and tropical names, ‘Lime’ has a commanding perspective of St Joseph Cathedral. There’s wi-fi and a small bar-restaurant. Book well ahead (from US$70; cinnamonhotel.net; 26 P Au Trieu). LUXURY The historic Sofitel Metropole Hotel is a supremely refined place to stay. Boastng an immaculately restored colonial façade, mahogany-panelled

reception rooms and two well-regarded restaurants, the hotel has an old wing with rooms offering unmatched colonial charm, while the modern Opera Wing has sumptuous levels of comfort (from US$245; sofitel.com; 15 P Ngo Quyen).

SEE & DO • The holiest of the holies for many Vietnamese, Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum Complex (left) is an important place of pilgrimage. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch the changing of the guard outside Ho’s mausoleum – the pomp and ceremony displayed here rivals the British equivalent at Buckingham Palace (entrance corner of P Ngoc Ha & P Doi Can). • The Temple of Literature is a rare example of well-preserved traditional Vietnamese architecture. The temple complex, comprising of five coutryards, is extensive and well-kept, and a welcome retreat from the frenetic streets of Hanoi (P Quoc Tu Giam). • A large, non-touristy market in the Old Quarter, Dong Xuan Market consists of hundreds of stalls, and is a fascinating place to explore if you want to catch a flavour of Hanoian street life (corner of P Hang Khoai & P Dong Xuan).

April 2011

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Cacti point to epic skies over the Saguaro National Park, Arizona, USA

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THE GUIDE Want travel advice you can trust? Our experts will answer your questions.

insider 88

ANYTHING TO DECLARE Samantha Brown reveals her travel highlights.

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INSIDER

the guide

Re Ourveriure expertsdolendio on wondrous do euip skies, esed thetieworld's faci blandit best-connected incilit irilluteairports euguerand se dolobor how to avoid alis nos scams THE BIG THREE… 'Where can I go to get away from bright city lights and to see great night skies, with plenty to do during the day as well?' Matt Bronson, Chicago

WE CAN HELP!

Our experts are waiting to suggest ideas for your next trip. Write to us at asklpmagazine@ regentmedia.sg

ROBERT REID Robert is Lonely Planet’s New Yorkbased US travel editor

SHAWN LOW is Lonely Planet’s Melbourne-based Asia-Pacific travel editor

1 UMBRIA, ITALY

2 TUCSON, ARIZONA

3 VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA

The best sky I’ve ever seen was when I was staying in a converted farmhouse in rural Umbria, Italy. The beauty of this part of the world is the mix of a rustic pace of life, wonderful food and drink, and a huge variety of things to do in a small area. The villages around Orvieto, a beautiful hilltop town with excellent wineries nearby, make good bases. Take day trips to the gorgeous university town of Perugia and the Lago di Bolsena. The area is also close enough to make a dash to Florence or Rome should you crave a hit of big city life. Be sure to be back in your rural idyll for sunset and then the evening light show; it can be dazzling, especially to those who live in a city. There’s a handpicked selection of properties at VTC Italy to give you some ideas (vtcitaly. com). As you might expect, high summer is high season. While swimming pool weather is restricted to the summer months, the starry sky will be there year-round.

Love the question. A super place to base yourself with much to do including stargazing is Tucson, Arizona, a southwestern university town undergoing a renaissance – and a place that's very proud of keeping itself dark. The surrounding mountains are home to observatories and the city has strict 'dark skies' regulations on lighting (downward). A short drive to the west is the Saguaro National Park, home to cartoon-style cacti. There are looping drives, hikes, and it's a local favourite for sunsets (nps.gov/ sagu). To get the space theme going, Tucson's Flandrau Science Center offers 3D views of Mars (flandrau. org). Be sure to take a day trip 56 miles southwest to Kitt Peak National Observatory, one of the world's largest, for its three-hour night-time observing programmes (US$50; noao.edu; book weeks ahead). Away from the stars, Tucson deserves some attention for its nightlife and food around its historic heart, traversed by a new streetcar.

Australia's vastness offers unparalleled locales for stargazing. Take, for example, the drive along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. This 150-mile stretch of coastal road takes you past rainforest, surfing beaches, charming seaside towns, battered rock formations and shipwreck sites. Torquay, at the start of the drive, has a fantastic surfing beach. Continuing along, you’ll pass through Lorne and Apollo Bay, two seaside towns that are pit stops for fish and chips. Keep your eyes peeled for Beech Forest – tramp through rainforest and climb to platforms above the canopy. Head inland to a volcanic landscape as you travel between the towns of Colac and Camperdown via Red Rock Lookout. Most visitors end their trip at the Twelve Apostles – now only seven rock stacks standing out in the sea. For accommodation, find a secluded place with limited light pollution, such as Cape Otway Cottages (cottages from US$240 for two nights; capeotwaycottages.com.au).

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Cacti point to epic skies over the Saguaro National Park, Arizona, USA

TOM HALL Tom is Lonely Planet Publications’ UK travel editor

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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011


IN OUR CASE

THE SHORTLIST

Power-packed compact cameras for great travels

Which are the world's best-connected airports?

Sony NEX-C3 (from US$825)

The people who update the departure and arrival boards at Frankfurt's main airport deserve respect: they have to keep tabs on flights to and from nearly 300 different destinations worldwide. If you want to fly from Antigua to Zanzibar, you can make the connection here. Runner-up Amsterdam has also become a major international transit point. Atlanta, on the other hand, makes it into the top five mainly due to its status as a US domestic hub for Delta Air Lines. Gatwick currently holds the lead in the UK, serving 200 different airports. Next are Heathrow (187), Manchester (159), Stansted (151), Edinburgh (100) and Birmingham (97).

1 Frankfurt International 292 2 Amsterdam Schiphol 257 3 Paris Charles de Gaulle 250 4 Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson 227 5 Beijing Captital International 214 6 Chicago O'Hare International 227 7 Munich International 208 8 London Getwick 200 9 Denver International 195 10 Houston George Bush international 190 Source: OAG (oagaviation.com)

Sony Nex-C3 is the world’s smallest interchangeable lens camera, with a 16.2-megapixel sensor that captures DLSR-quality still images and HD videos. ‘Picture Effect’ mode allows users to edit effects like ‘retro photo’ and ‘high contrast monochrome’ to still images or HD videos, and its 3D Sweep Panorama takes extra-wide images in 3D.

Olympus SZ-30MR (from US$495)

SZ-30MR has a powerful 24x optical zoom lens from a wide angle of 25mm. The 16-megapixel backlit sensor offers superb image quality even under low-light conditions. Other functions include multi-framing shooting and HD movie recording, 360 degrees panorama function, and pet mode – a function that automatically focus and detect dogs’ and cats’ faces.

Don't step in that cab until you've agreed a price!

HOW TO…

Avoid scams

Even the most sensible among us can be caught out by a dodgy trick abroad. Here’s what to look out for… l Taxis are a common ruse for a scam. Never get into a cab unless you're sure it’s reputable, and always agree a price beforehand. l Beware taxi drivers (or ‘helpful’ strangers) who tell you that the hotel or attraction you want to go to is closed or fully booked. They are often paid commission by other hotels and restaurants to take you there instead. l Always double-check, through word of mouth, guidebooks or the internet, that local tour companies are reliable. Some will add unwanted extras to your trip (in exchange for commission), while others may take your money and vanish. Many ‘cheap’ buses taking non-locals across the Thai-Cambodian border, for example, fall into the first category. l Pressured buys are a favourite tactic. In Beijing, for instance, you may be invited to a traditional teahouse or art exhibition, and then presented with a huge bill or guilt-tripped into an expensive buy. Beware attractive strangers who invite you to bars only to vanish when a huge bill arrives.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3 (from US$535)

Specially designed for active outdoor use, Lumix DMC-FT3 has a water-proof, capacity up to 12 metres of pressure underwater and shock-proof exteriors; is freeze-proof to at least 10°C, and dust-proof against water immersion, dust and sand. A built-in compass, altimeter and barometer make it perfect for adventure seekers.

Casio EX-TR100 (from US$330)

l An official-looking badge or uniform gives an extra layer of authority. If you are asked for cash or for your passport in an unusual situation, insist on checking with a police officer or senior-looking official first. l Lastly, refuse all unsolicited offers to buy goods that you are told you can sell at a profit back home. This is known as the gem scam. Despite all this, don't make paranoia your default setting when stepping off the plane.

The EX-TR100 features a slim and stylish camera body with a variable frame design that opens and closes for free positioning. It has a 3-inch, high performance, super-clear LCD with rotatable touch panel, and its 21mm wide-angle lens is ideal for error-free self-shot portraits.

For information on the latest scams, visit lonelyplanet.com/thorntree

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

87


INSIDER

anything to declare? Samantha Brown

Samantha Brown roughing it out in China.

Can you remember your first holiday? I started travelling late in life. I was 24 year old when I first went overseas to Paris, France. Both the language and the size of the city made it an intimidating place but it was, and still is, so beautiful. I’ve been back there three other times now and the city just becomes more magical every time I go back. Each time, I still feel like I’m walking on air. It really is the most romantic city in the world.

Where do you always like to return to?

The host of several popular travel television programmes, including Samantha Brown’s Asia and Samantha Brown’s Great Weekends, talks about six-hour walks, escaping herself and James Bond

Santa Fe, New Mexico. It’s still in the United States but I love Out West; where people dress like cowboys, there are stunning landscapes and it’s very different from the area I grew up in. There are beautiful trails that I like to hike. I love that it is a dry desert where you can smell the sage in the air.

What is the one thing you will never fail to do in a new country? First thing I always do and I never fail to do is go for a long six-hour walk. I don’t have any itinerary in mind but I try to get away from all the major attractions and see how the neighbourhoods change. I try to get a feel for the place, without a book or somebody telling me what this place is, just to have my own impressions.

Would you say you are more of an adventure traveller? I’m definitely an adventurer. I like the physical aspect of travel and trying things like that. And even though I do stay in a lot of those luxury hotels, I don’t need to. It’s just because that’s where they put us up and I’m not gonna fight.

Do you like solo travelling? I’m with my crew during the day when we’re working but when we’re done, I go off on my own, and I really enjoy being alone. I’ve always been a real advocate for it, especially for women. By travelling alone, you have a more authentic experience. With a travel companion, you don’t open yourself up to people as much. I recommend people who are travelling together to just take a morning or afternoon off alone.

INTERVIEW: JOYCE HUANG

Which foreign country do you think you can live in?

88

Name three destinations that you think are underrated for travel? Definitely Cambodia. I would also say Central America – places like Panama, Hondurras and Nicaragua. And what I call B-side cities, like there’s always a B-side to A-sides in records? So if everyone goes to Paris, try Lyon instead. In Italy if everyone goes to Florence, I think the city of Bologna instead. They’re much less visited and you can have a more personal experience there. Plus the locals aren’t suffering from travel fatigue. In Italy especially, the Italians are like, “Oh another tour bus!” They’re obviously making some good money but you want people who are happy to see you there, people who are doing things not just for tourists.

Do you still send postcards? No I don’t, but I still do write personal thank you notes.

What do you look for in a weekend getaway?

I loved Cambodia. I don’t know if I really would pack up and move halfway around the world but I really felt at home there. I also felt it in the country of Nicaragua, in Central America. It’s very strange; you don’t know where it’s coming from but you just feel this a sense of familiarity and it’s nice.

I look for a place that will allow me to be someone different, because I think when one goes away on big trips for a week at a time, one remains who they are. But on a weekend we can play more, be more adventurous, more sporty, more flirtatious and romantic. So I love little weekend getaways that allow me to escape myself in a way and be someone different.

What passport stamp are you most proud of?

What was your favourite travel TV programme?

China. When I finally went over to China, it was also the first time I went to Asia. For me, going to Asia was when I felt that I could finally say that I was a world traveller despite people giving me that title before. Plus you also need a visa and a lot more things just to go to China, so when people see that passport stamp, it’s impressive.

It is not a TV programme but James Bond movies were how I learnt about the world. He was always somewhere exotic.

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

Catch the effervescent Samantha Brown on Samantha Brown’s Great Weekends 3, premiering every Monday at 10pm beginning October 10 on TLC, Starhub Ch427


INSIDER

don’t miss out

Start planning now for some of the best events in the world 2 to 7

One of the three major festivals in Tohoku region, Japan, Aomori Nebuta Festival is a summer festival held mainly in Aomori prefecture. See floats of brave warrior-figures, otherwise known as nebuta floats, clad with colourful lanterns and historical figures painted on paper, all carried by its accompanying dancers and children.

26 Diwali, also known as Festival of Lights, is an important Hindu festival celebrated throughout India. See the lighting of small clay lamps in millions of households, rangoli decoration made from colourful powder, celebrants wearing bright and multicoloured new clothes and savour sweet dishes like badam phirni and lip-smacking gulab jamun.

most exciting motor-racing events in the world, Macau Grand Prix is a competition of international drivers and riders in different categories from single-seaters, touring cars to motorbikes. Root for Spanish sensation Roberto Merhi or catch a glimpse of other international racers during this spectacular racing event (macau.grandprix.gov.mo).

28 to 6 Nov Powerco Taranaki Garden

Spectacular, New Zealand’s premier spring festival, welcomes the advent of spring with a spectacular range of garden displays and events. It includes the International Landscape Design Project, Music & Wine in Gardens, as well as garden tours where one will get to see colourful flower blossoms and artistic garden designs (taft.co.nz/gardenfestn).

25 to 27 Head down to Hong

19 to 26 Set in the beautiful Siem Reap, Cambodia, Angkor Photo Festival will showcase the works of ermerging photographers in the region. As the first photo festival created in Southeast Asia, it provides a great opportunity for talented photographers to display their photos taken from around the world (photographyforchange.net).

beach party of the year at Siloso Beach, Sentosa. This 10th anniversary celebration will see popular DJs like Dutch trance music king Tiesto and French house & electro music jock David Guatte. Catch an elaborate fireworks display from the three islets off Siloso Beach and party the night away (zoukclub.com).

Kong, also known as Pearl of the Orient, for the Hong Kong Cricket Festival 2011. This event draws cricketers from UK, Australia, Shanghai, and Thailand to compete against the Hong Kong club sides. Don’t miss out the chance to be part of the game as a player, team, spectator or even official (hkcricketfestival.com).

17 to 18 For two days visitors will get to taste more than 150 Belgian Christmas and winter beers during the Christmas Beer Festival. Delectable beer-inspired dish creations such as beef stew and Christmas beer soup will also be available during the festival (kerstbierfestival.be).

28 to 1 Jan The combination of

DECEMBER 2011

10 Attend ZoukOut, Singapore’s biggest WORDS: DARREN WONG PHOTOGRAPHS: Dirk Michael Deckbar; International Cultural Promotions Ltd; Jessica Hilltout; Macau Grand Prix; ober. essen; sxc.hu

boats to the waters of Kuching Waterfront on the Sarawak River, Sarawak Regatta is a world-class premier water-sport event with distinct historical and cultural significance. The programme includes traditional longboat and dragon boat races, as well as a trade and food fair, cultural show and Malaysian craft exhibition (sarawakregatta.com).

NOVEMBER 2011

17 to 20 Apart from being one of the

15 to 18 Bringing the world’s best and brightest

OCTOBER 2011

16 The prestigious Beijing Marathon 2011, taking place during the serene, dry and cool season in fall, will see more than 30,000 marathon runners competing to claim the winning title. The running route starts from Tian’anmen Square to the Celebration Square of the Central Zone of Beijing Olympics Park (beijing-marathon.com).

9 to 16 Performers from the UK, Brazil, Netherlands, Taiwan and many more will be gathering at the Thailand Cultural Centre for an array of spectacular performances during the Bangkok International Festival of Dance & Music. Expect contemporary ballet performances, gymnastic dances, operas and symphony concerts (bangkokfestivals.com).

SEPTEMBER 2011

BOOK IT

music, camping and art programs in The Falls Music & Arts Festival will see thousands of visitors flocking to Lorne (Victoria) and Marion Bay (Tasmania), Australia. Catch performances by Australian and international bands and comedians or join the parade of the Falls Fiesta (2011.fallsfestival.com.au).

EARLY WARNING 27 to 29 January Celebrating the magnificent Oregon truffles, the 7th annual Oregon Truffle Festival is packed with workshops, enticing packages and the Grand Truffle Dinner filling up the weekend. It is a platform for chefs, foragers and fans of Oregon’s wild truffles to share their experience and a great mingling session to learn more about this exquisite delicacy (oregontrufflefestival.com).

9 to 19 Febuary Featuring

more than 400 films, the Berlin International Film Festival has attracted thousands of journalists, film professionals and film enthusiasts heading to the capital of Germany to experience the rich cinema scene (berlinale.de).

30 to 31 March Experience two nights of music extravaganza with over 40 international and African stars performing during the Cape Town International Jazz Festival. Known to be Africa’s grandest music gathering, this festival will take place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (capetownjazzfest.com). SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

89


INSIDER

Meet

For three years, Magnum photographer, Abbas, and Singapore’s Melisa Teo journeyed through the spiritual worlds of Buddhism, Shamanism and Hinduism, photographing same subjects with contrasting perspectives and styles. Find out what makes them click.

MELISA TEO Melisa Teo is one of seven photographers who launched Bite!, an online photographic magazine What makes a good photograph? A good photograph inspires reflection. A great one inspires reflection and constructive action.

What makes a good photographer? A good photographer takes competent pictures. A great photographer has a story to tell and tells it in an unforgettable way.

Should photographs provide answers or provoke questions? An interesting photograph can do both. One is not more important than the other. What’s important is the effect of asking those questions or finding those answers.

Should photographers be objective or subjective in their approach to an issue? Even if a photographer attempts to adopt an objective approach, his

photograph ultimately reveals a subjective viewpoint. Because a photo results from a photographer’s conscious choice of subject, angle, cropping and effect based on a choice of camera settings.

What excites you most as a photographer? Magical encounters with light.

If you could give one tip to an aspiring travel photographer, what would that be?

ABBAS

Enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

Abbas is a member of Magnum Photos. His iconic works on Islam, Christianity and Polytheism have been showcased around the world

How did you start photographing out of focus? I started shooting in manual mode using manual focus because using automatic settings feels like I have to cook strictly following someone else’s recipes. I prefer to add my own ‘seasoning’. This enables me to render my style and perspective into my photographs. Har Ki Pauri, India, 2011

India, 2011

What makes a good photograph?

What excites you most as a photographer?

What makes a great love affair?

The anticipation, the shooting, the editing, the sequencing; the first two are more intuitive, the other two more intellectual.

What makes a good photographer? What makes a great lover?

Should photographs provide answers, or provoke questions? Viewers of my photographs should pose questions which he has to answer himself. I provide clues only.

If you could give one tip to an aspiring travel photographer, what would that be? Get a good pair of walking shoes. And fall in love.

How do you approach a photography scene, say a What is your most memorable temple and its congregation? or significant moment on a Do you camp in the scene, or photography assignment? is it usually a fast in and out? INTERVIEW: LARRY TOH

The one that is to come.

Time is an ally, not an enemy.

Dark Light – a joint show by Abbas/Magnum and Melisa Teo – showcases the juxtaposition of viewpoints and aesthetics between these two photographers through 44 compelling images of shared subjects culled from their travels and adventures around the world. It will be held from 1 to 23 September at 2902 Gallery, Singapore. Visit 2902gallery.com for more details.

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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011


SINGAPORE ON THE FAST LANE

ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE

M

ore than just the world’s only street circuit night race, the Formula 1 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix is a great opportunity to experience the dynamic city-state. The buzz starts way before the first ignition of an F1 car. In what has become known as Grand Prix Season Singapore, the week preceding the race showcases a number of cultural festivals, fashion and festive nightlife events, giving Singaporeans and travellers alike a great excuse to party. Happening 23 to 25 September, the Formula 1 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix is definitely an event not to be missed.

WHERE TO STAY

INTERCONTINENTAL SINGAPORE

CARLTON HOTEL SINGAPORE

The country’s only Peranakan-inspired luxury hotel, InterContinental Singapore boasts a Peranakan-style artistry, reflected in the its architecture, décor and tapestry. Of its 403 guestrooms, the Peranakan Shophouse rooms are the most charming. They feature touches of the rich Peranakan heritage including dark teak flooring, intricate carvings and artifacts. At the recently refurbished Cantonese restaurant Man Fu Yuan, one can feast on innovative Cantonese fare, delicate handcrafted dim sum and a selection of unique dishes infused with the exquisite flavour of imported teas (singapore.intercontinental.com).

Not only is Carlton Hotel Singapore strategically located near Singapore’s financial center, within proximity to popular dining and retail areas like Chijmes, close to cultural attractions like the National Museum of Singapore, it is most importantly within walking distance to the F1 race circuit. The 915-room hotel has an extensive range of guestrooms. After an action-packed day, chill out at Gravity Bar and enjoy a wide selection of single malt whiskies, wines, international cocktails and delectable finger food as you wind down to the soothing tunes of the live band (carltonhotel.sg).

HOLIDAY INN SINGAPORE ORCHARD CITY CENTRE Located in the heart of downtown Singapore, Holiday Inn Singapore offers great convenience for those who would like to tackle the famous Orchard Road shopping belt. Yet, with its 319 guest rooms overlooking the lush greenery of the gardens of Singapore’s Presidential Palace, the hotel also offers a peaceful retreat. When the hunger pang strikes, enjoy a hearty meal of tantalising meats, succulent seafood cooked in herbs and spices, and other exquisite and traditional North Indian delicacies at Tandoor, one of the few authentic North Indian restaurants in Singapore serving up dishes fit for royalty (holidayinn.com/sin-orchard).


ADVERTISEMENT ADVERTISEMENTFEATURE FEATURE

HOTEL, SWEET HOTEL

JIA, Hong Kong’s first chic boutique hotel, targets a hip crowd who wish to find a home away from home in the city

I

n the middle of the buzzing Causeway Bay shopping and entertainment district, JIA is a welcome oasis of calm. Drawing from its Mandarin meaning of “home”, JIA features 56 guest rooms, done up in a stylish but relaxed flavour that exudes the ambiance of an elegant abode. Created within an existing 15-year-old residential building, the guest

rooms at JIA was transformed by French design guru Philippe Starck to showcase his celebrated sleek, modern designs and handpicked chic furnishings and fittings. The interior focuses on spatial clarity, comfort and style, with ultra-modern amenities for fast-living professionals and the style-conscious traveller.


ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE

Make Yourself At Home Reflecting JIA’s concept of ‘home’ all rooms are designed so that guests feel like they are in a residential apartment rather than a hotel. Within each of the hotel rooms, the space is clearly defined into living, dining and working areas, with the clever use of sheer curtains and separate Arabescato cor marble-finished kitchen and bathroom. The kitchens are fully equipped with tableware and cookware and boasts quality appliances like refrigerators and Smeg microwave ovens. The ultra-sleek bathroom features contemporary designer fixtures and luxury amenities. Top of the range audio-visual equipment include flat screen televisions, surround sound systems and DVD/VCD home theatre units, and free broadband connectivity.

Additional stylish facilities within the hotel include a second floor sundeck and podium for leisure travellers to chill out at, as well as a fully-equipped conference room for business travellers. Also, slated for late September, a refurbishment at the top floor of the hotel will bring with it a new gym, reading room and meeting room.

Culinary Delight

The Drawing Room, which recently won a much-coveted Michelin star, is a chic restaurant serving authentic yet contemporary Italian cuisine. A drawing room was once a dedicated place in one’s home to receive and entertain guests in an artistic and comfortable ambience. Headed by Master Chef Roland Schuller, The Drawing Room interprets this classical concept by dishing out exceptional dishes,

signature cocktails and an outstanding wine selection with affable hospitality. In line with the artistic concept of a drawing room, the restaurant also serves as an art gallery, with stunning artworks on display that can be purchased upon request.

Home Delivery

JIA’s unique room service concept expounds on the hotel’s “staying at home” philosophy, allowing guests to enjoy delectable local specialties in the comfort and privacy of their own room. As all rooms have fully equipped kitchens complete with cookware and dining ware, rather than the usual room service, the food is delivered in the room as ‘Home Delivery’, leaving guests to serve themselves as and when they wish as if they were at home.

For more information about JIA boutique hotel, go to jiahongkong.com, or call 852 3196 9000


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ADVERTISEMENT FEATURE

AT YOUR SERVICE

Hotel Nikko Hongkong possesses an extraordinary service ethos that places emphasis on sincerity, generosity and self-motivated hospitality

R

eflecting a commitment to delivering the highest standards of luxury and convenience for its guests, Hotel Nikko Hongkong is in a constant state of improvement, with on-going enhancements and maintenance efforts on all its major facilities. The hotel offers an expansive and impeccable range of amenities and services that make it ideally positioned to serve the needs of both business and leisure travellers. Hotel Nikko Hongkong is also one of the few “green” hotels in Asia and has received numerous awards for its exemplary environmental initiatives. The hotel also has several Japanese natives on its staff to assist Japanese-speaking guests in all communications with the hotel.

Location, Location, Location

Situated in one of the city’s choicest locations along the Victoria Harbour waterfront, the hotel is a heartbeat away from the hustle-bustle of Tsimshatsui, Hong Kong’s most famous shopping, entertainment and business district. The hotel is also closely linked to the city’s major transportation systems – a four minute walk brings you to the MTR East Tsimshatsui station.

A Good Night’s Sleep

The hotel boasts 463 guestrooms including 18 suites, many with a harbour view. All rooms are equipped with the latest amenities that any traveller would appreciate, including LCD television, wireless broadband service, international direct dial telephone and voice mail.

The Nikko Floors, which comprise of the top four storeys of the hotel, offer extra luxurious accommodation and privileges including entry to the exclusive Nikko Lounge. The cosy lounge offers complimentary breakfast, all-day refreshments and snacks, evening cocktails, wireless broadband connectivity, and access to international periodicals.

Fine Dining

If food is your fix, you’ll be pleased to discover that the hotel serves an extensive choice of the world’s finest cuisines at its many restaurants. Whether you are craving Cantonese food, the variety of an international buffet, Japanese culinary favourites, exquisite European gourmet fare or just a light meal followed by cocktails, you won’t be disappointed by any of the various options.

For more information about Hotel Nikko Hongkong, go to www.hotelnikko.com.hk, or call 852 2313 4305


NEXT ISSUE

Discover the majesty of the GRAND CANYON, MONUMENT VALLEY and LAS VEGAS on America’s greatest road trip 96

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011


SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

MINI GUIDES MINI GUIDE Sep/Oct 2011

MINI GUIDE Sep/Oct 2011

Cappadocia, Turkey

Delhi, India Delhi’s allure lies in the clash of frenzied modern life and its epic origins

MINI GUIDE Sep/Oct 2011

Edinburgh, Scotland

San Francisco, USA

Fold 1 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

103

See

BEST FOR LANDSCAPES 1 Göreme Open-Air Museum is a World Heritage site dotted with medieval painted cave churches, less than a mile uphill from Göreme village. The buildings are carved from soft volcanic stone and decorated with Byzantine frescoes (Göreme Açik Hava Müzesi; 8am-5pm; US$10).

Tear out page here then fold along the dotted lines

lines dotted along the then fold page here Tear out

Tear out page here then fold along the dotted lines

Tear out page here then fold along the dotted lines

with its beanbag seating, and try the succulent103 Erciyes kebab, served on fried potatoes and garlic yoghurt (00 90 384 271 2882; alaturca.com.tr; Müze Caddesi, Göreme; mains US$6.50–US$16).

TURN OVER FOR MAP AND NUMBER LOCATIONS

3

WHY GO?

Born from the millennia-old eruption of the Erciyes Dag˘i volcano, the troglodyte architecture of Cappadocia is unique – a bizarre terrain of rock columns, pyramids and mushrooms, where ancient empires made their homes.

FOLD again to make a handy pocketsize guide

WHAT IS THERE TO DO?

The valleys and eroded rock forms known as fairy chimneys mark this alluring landscape. Look closely and you’ll see churches and homes cut into the rock, often decorated with rich frescoes. You can take in a Cappadocian dawn from a hot-air balloon, and sunset from the terrace of your boutique cave hotel.

Left: fairy chimneys. Above: a ride in a hot-air balloon is a must

Eat & drink

The restaurant of the Old Greek House 6 hotel is one of the best places to try Ottoman cuisine in the region. Prepared by village women, dishes include barbunya (lima beans in tomato sauce), carrot salad and fantastic baklava. The hotel (from US$57) is also an excellent place to stay (00 90 384 353 5141; oldgreekhouse. com; S¸ahin Caddesi, Mustafapas¸a; mains US$4–US$13). Despite its uninspired name, Local Restaurant 7 is one of Göreme’s best. There’s a terrace and an elegant, stone-walled dining room. Service is attentive and the scrumptious dishes are reasonably priced (00 90 384 271 2629; Müze Caddesi 38, Göreme; mains US$7.30). Cool Ziggy’s 8 , named after the David Bowie song, has stylish décor on multi-level terraces and a jazz soundtrack. You can opt for a cocktail or the 12-course set menu (00 90 384 341 7107; Yunak Mahallesi, Teyfik Fikret Caddesi 24, Ürgüp; mains US$8–US$10.50).

BEST FOR VIEWS 2 A dawn balloon ride over deep-worn valleys and fairy chimneys is a truly magical experience. Try ezairballoons.com and sultanballoons.com in Ürgüp, or kapadokyaballoons.com in Göreme (most mornings, Apr-Nov; from US$250).

BEST FOR HISTORY 3 Kaymakli is one of the largest of Cappadocia’s 37 yeralti ¸sehri (underground cities) open to the public. Built more than 13 centuries ago as a refuge for Byzantine Christians from Persian and Arab armies, the cities contain homes, churches and stables, and are fascinating if claustrophobic (8am-5pm; US$10).

The churches of Göreme Open-Air Museum are covered in frescoes

BEST FOR ATMOSPHERE 4 The twin valleys of Sog˘lani are magnificent, even if they didn’t feature in Star Wars despite mischievous guides’ claims. The northernmost valley is easily circuited on foot in about two hours, taking in the many rock-cut churches.

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BEST FOR ADVENTURE 5 Trekking routes cross the craggy limestone ranges dotted with waterfalls in the Ala Dag˘lar National Park. It’s best to get a guide (around US$73 per day) and to trek between June and September (middleearthtravel. com; demavendtravel.com; trekkinginturkeys.com).

Dimrit’s terrace is a great place to sit back and watch the sunset

With its hillside terraces, Dimrit is a top spot to eat and spend a sunset. The menu features salads, fish, grills and specials such as lamb kebab with eggplant purée (00 90 384 341 8585; Yunak Mahallesi, Teyfik Fikret Caddesi 40, Ürgüp; mains US$6.50–US$14). Style meets substance at A’laturca 10 . Pick one of the many seating areas, such as the garden with its beanbag seating, and try the succulent Erciyes kebab, served on fried potatoes and garlic yoghurt (00 90 384 271 2882; alaturca.com.tr; Müze Caddesi, Göreme; mains US$6.50–US$16). 9

TURN OVER FOR MAP AND NUMBER LOCATIONS SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

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décor on multi-level terraces and a jazzSEPTEMBER/OCTOBER soundtrack. You can opt for 2011 a cocktail or the 12-course set menu (00 90 384 341 7107; Yunak Mahallesi, Teyfik Fikret Caddesi 24, Ürgüp; mains US$8–US$10.50).

Turkey

1

Trekking routes cross the craggy limestone ranges dotted with waterfalls in the Ala Dag˘lar National Park. It’s best to get a guide (around US$73 per day) and to trek between June and September (middleearthtravel. com; demavendtravel.com; trekkinginturkeys.com).

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Cappadocia’s 37 yeralti ¸sehri (underground cities) open to the public. Built more than 13 centuries ago as a refuge for Byzantine Christians from Persian and Arab armies, the cities contain homes, churches and stables, and are fascinating if claustrophobic (8am-5pm; US$10).

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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

Eat Eat& &drink drink

The restaurant of the Old Greek House 6 hotel is one of the best The restaurant of the Old Greek places to try Ottoman cuisine in 6 hotel is one of the best the House region. Prepared by village women, dishes barbunya places to tryinclude Ottoman cuisine in (limathe beans in tomato sauce), region. Prepared by village carrot salad and fantastic women, dishes include barbunya baklava. The hotel (from US$57) is (lima beans place in tomato sauce), also an excellent to stay (00 Dimrit’s terrace is a great place 90 384carrot 353 5141; saladoldgreekhouse. and fantastic Museum are covered in frescoes to sit back and watch the sunset com; S ¸ahin Caddesi, Mustafapas ¸a; stoneVIEWS and decorated with baklava. The hotel (from US$57) is 2 mains US$4–US$13). BEST FOR frescoes alsoitsanuninspired excellent name, place to stay (00With its hillside terraces, Dimrit Despite A dawnByzantine balloon ride over (Göreme Açik BEST FOR ATMOSPHERE 4 churches of˘lani Göreme Dimrit’s terrace is aspend great place 7 is one of 9 is a top deep-worn valleys and fairy The twin The valleys of Sog are Open-AirLocal Restaurant spot to eat and a Hava Müzesi; 8am-5pm; US$10). 90 384 353 5141; oldgreekhouse. Museum covered in frescoes Göreme’s best. There’s a terrace to sit backfeatures and watch the sunset chimneys is a truly magical magnificent, evenare if they didn’t sunset. The menu salads, com; S ¸ahin Caddesi, Mustafapas ¸a; experience. Try ezairballoons.com feature in Star Wars despite and an elegant, stone-walled fish, grills and specials such as 2 mains US$4–US$13). BEST FOR VIEWS and sultanballoons.com in Ürgüp, mischievous guides’ claims. The dining room. Service is attentive lamb kebab with eggplant purée 4 the scrumptious or kapadokyaballoons.com valley easily and dishes are (00 90 384 341 8585; Yunak terraces, Dimrit Despite its uninspired name, With its hillside A dawn balloon ride over northernmost BEST FORisATMOSPHERE in Göreme (most mornings, circuited on foot in about two ˘lani reasonably priced (00 90 384 271 Mahallesi, Teyfik Caddesi 40, 9 is a Fikret Local Restaurant 7 is oneÜrgüp; deep-worn valleys and fairyhours, The twin valleys of Sog are of top spot to eat and spend a Apr-Nov; from US$250). taking in the many 2629; Müze Caddesi 38, Göreme; mains US$6.50–US$14). chimneys is a truly magicalrock-cut churches. magnificent, even if they didn’t Göreme’s best. There’s a terrace sunset. The menu mains US$7.30). Style meets substance at features salads, 3 8 , elegant, BEST FORexperience. HISTORY Try A’laturca 10fish, named after . Pick oneand of the many such as ezairballoons.com feature in Star Wars despite Cool Ziggy’s and an stone-walled grills specials 5 Kaymakli is one the largest of the David Bowie song, has stylishis attentive seating areas, such as thewith garden and of sultanballoons.com inBEST Ürgüp,FOR ADVENTURE mischievous guides’ claims. The dining room. Service lamb kebab eggplant purée Cappadocia’s 37 yeralti ¸ sehri Trekking routes cross the craggy décor on multi-level terraces and with its beanbag seating, and try orcities) kapadokyaballoons.com northernmost valley is easily and the scrumptious 90 384 341 8585; Yunak (underground open to the limestone ranges dotted with a jazz soundtrack. You can opt for dishes the are succulent(00 Erciyes kebab, public. Built more than 13 waterfalls in the Ala Daon cocktail or the 12-course set (00 90served g˘lar on fried potatoes Teyfik and garlic in Göreme (most mornings, circuited foot in aboutatwo reasonably priced 384 271 Mahallesi, Fikret Caddesi 40, centuries agoApr-Nov; as a refuge forUS$250). National Park.hours, menu (00 90 384 341 7107; Yunak 38, yoghurt It’s best to get 384 271 2882;US$6.50–US$14). from taking in the many 2629; Müze Caddesi Göreme;(00 90 Ürgüp; mains Byzantine Christians from Persian Mahallesi, Teyfik Fikret Caddesi a guide (around US$73 per day) alaturca.com.tr; Müze Caddesi, rock-cut churches. mains US$7.30). Style meets substance at and Arab armies, the cities 24, Ürgüp; mains US$8–US$10.50). and to trek between June and Göreme; mains US$6.50–US$16). 3 FORand HISTORY September Cool Ziggy’s 8 , named after A’laturca 10 . Pick one of the many contain homes,BEST churches (middleearthtravel. stables, and areKaymakli fascinating if demavendtravel.com; 5 BEST FOR ADVENTURE is one of the com; largest of the David song, has stylish seating areas, such as the garden TURN OVER FOR MAPBowie AND NUMBER LOCATIONS claustrophobic (8am-5pm; US$10). trekkinginturkeys.com).

Cappadocia,

WH

TURN OVER FOR MAP AND NUMBER LOCATIONS

from the terrace of your boutique cave hotel. Left: fairy chimneys. Above: a ride Left: fairy chimneys. Above: a ride in a hot-air balloon is a must in a hot-air balloon is a must

See See

BEST FOR LANDSCAPES 1 Göreme Open-Air Museum is a 1 BEST FOR LANDSCAPES World Heritage site dotted with Göreme Open-Air Museum is a medieval painted cave churches, lessWorld than aHeritage mile uphill sitefrom dotted with Göreme village. The buildings medieval painted cave churches, are carved from soft volcanic a mile uphill stoneless andthan decorated with from Göreme village. The buildings Byzantine frescoes (Göreme Açik The churches of Göreme Open-Air Hava Müzesi; 8am-5pm; US$10). are carved from soft volcanic

MINI GUIDE Sep/Oct 2011

, ocia

BEST FOR ADVENTURE 5 Trekking routes cross the craggy limestone ranges dotted with waterfalls in the Ala Dag˘lar National Park. It’s best to get a guide (around US$73 per day) and to trek between June and September (middleearthtravel. com; demavendtravel.com; trekkinginturkeys.com).

Dimrit’s terrace is a great place to sit back and watch the sunset

With its hillside terraces, Dimrit 9 is a top spot to eat and spend a sunset. The menu features salads, fish, grills and specials such as lamb kebab with eggplant purée (00 90 384 341 8585; Yunak Mahallesi, Teyfik Fikret Caddesi 40, Ürgüp; mains US$6.50–US$14). Style meets substance at A’laturca 10 . Pick one of the many seating areas, such as the garden with its beanbag seating, and try the succulent Erciyes kebab, served on fried potatoes and garlic yoghurt (00 90 384 271 2882; alaturca.com.tr; Müze Caddesi, Göreme; mains US$6.50–US$16).

Cappadocia,

Turkey Turkey

empires made their homes.

The valleys and eroded rock forms known as fairy chimneys mark this alluring landscape. Look closely WHAT IS THERE TO DO? and The you’ll see churches androck homes cut known into theasrock, valleys and eroded forms fairy chimneys mark this alluring landscape. often decorated with rich frescoes. You canLook takeclosely in a and you’ll see churches and homes cut into the rock, Cappadocian dawn from a hot-air balloon, and sunset often decorated with rich frescoes. You can take in a from the terracedawn of your boutique cave hotel.and sunset Cappadocian from a hot-air balloon,

E Se

BEST FOR HISTORY 3 Kaymakli is one of the largest of Cappadocia’s 37 yeralti ¸sehri (underground cities) open to the public. Built more than 13 centuries ago as a refuge for Byzantine Christians from Persian and Arab armies, the cities contain homes, churches and stables, and are fascinating if claustrophobic (8am-5pm; US$10).

The churches of Göreme Open-Air Museum are covered in frescoes

BEST FOR ATMOSPHERE 4 The twin valleys of Sog˘lani are magnificent, even if they didn’t feature in Star Wars despite mischievous guides’ claims. The northernmost valley is easily circuited on foot in about two hours, taking in the many rock-cut churches.

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2

troglodyte architecture of Cappadocia is unique – a bizarre terrain of rock columns,

and mushrooms, where ancient WHATpyramids IS THERE TO DO?

GUID

BEST FOR VIEWS 2 A dawn balloon ride over deep-worn valleys and fairy chimneys is a truly magical experience. Try ezairballoons.com and sultanballoons.com in Ürgüp, or kapadokyaballoons.com in Göreme (most mornings, Apr-Nov; from US$250).

Eat & drink The restaurant of the Old Greek House 6 hotel is one of the best places to try Ottoman cuisine in the region. Prepared by village women, dishes include barbunya (lima beans in tomato sauce), carrot salad and fantastic baklava. The hotel (from US$57) is also an excellent place to stay (00 90 384 353 5141; oldgreekhouse. com; S ¸ahin Caddesi, Mustafapas¸a; mains US$4–US$13). Despite its uninspired name, Local Restaurant 7 is one of Göreme’s best. There’s a terrace and an elegant, stone-walled dining room. Service is attentive and the scrumptious dishes are reasonably priced (00 90 384 271 2629; Müze Caddesi 38, Göreme; mains US$7.30). Cool Ziggy’s 8 , named after the David Bowie song, has stylish décor on multi-level terraces and a jazz soundtrack. You can opt for a cocktail or the 12-course set menu (00 90 384 341 7107; Yunak Mahallesi, Teyfik Fikret Caddesi 24, Ürgüp; mains US$8–US$10.50).

MINI GUIDE Sep/Oct 2011

and like to on Dreamtic at WHY GO? the connecti e, is an drama e tim sam in in the Caribbe the adocia iss of nexu Nowhere else n aica, once the Cacentrppal Turof key its ow ue rld ly felt as in Jam a wo its uniq to Africa as keen e. In addition and sugar trad ee the slave, rum world’s best coff has some of the hes. culture, Jamaica and tropical beac ld-class reefs plantations, wor 2011 p/Oct

Left: fairy chimneys. Above: a ride in a hot-air balloon is a must

See BEST FOR LANDSCAPES 1 Göreme Open-Air Museum is a World Heritage site dotted with medieval painted cave churches, less than a mile uphill from Göreme village. The buildings are carved from soft volcanic stone and decorated with Byzantine frescoes (Göreme Açik Hava Müzesi; 8am-5pm; US$10).

TEAR the guide out along the perforations…

Cappadocia,

-Air Open me oes of Göre in fresc red hes churcare cove 4

Turkey

MINI GUIDE Sep/Oct 2011

Dreamlike and dramatic at the same time, Cappadocia in central Turkey is a world of its own

1

WHAT IS THERE TO DO? The valleys and eroded rock forms known as fairy chimneys mark this alluring landscape. Look closely and you’ll see churches and homes cut into the rock, often decorated with rich frescoes. You can take in a Cappadocian dawn from a hot-air balloon, and sunset from the terrace of your boutique cave hotel.

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MINI GUIDE Sep/Oct 2011

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WHY GO? Born from the millennia-old eruption of the Erciyes Dag˘i volcano, the troglodyte architecture of Cappadocia is unique – a bizarre terrain of rock columns, pyramids and mushrooms, where ancient empires made their homes.

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FROM YOUR TEAR OUT AND KEEP MAGAZINE TO YOUR POCKET…

Dreamlike and dramatic at the same time, Cappadocia in central Turkey is a world of its own

Tear out page here then fold along the dotted lines

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Take in the view from the Golden Gate Bridge or ride a cable car downtown HOW TO GO airports in Jamaica are the Norman i US$25); The two busiest Kingston (tax 12 miles from Manley Airport, ort, two Sangster Airp and the Donald US$5). tego Bay (taxi miles from Mon British Airways Fly to either with -over om) via a stop (britishairways.c in London

Rocky crags and elegant Georgian architecture dominate this Scottish city

to the LEFT Negril, home Mile Beach. famed Seven is used in RIGHT Coconut recipes many Jamaican

The city has great nightlife, famous jazz festivals and excellent bouillabaisse

MINI

Marseille, France

t 2011 MINI GUIDE Sep/Oc

11

MINI GUIDE Sep/Oct 2011

Marvel at fairy chimneys and frescoes in Turkey’s ancient kingdom te to 3 Dives Jerk It’s no small tribu jerk (spicy Center 6 that its en grilled over a marinated chick long worth the usual on is charcoal fire) is sip Red Stripe on used wait. Eat jerk and 782 9990; The arley the cliffs (00 1 876 and dinner dios. Cliffs, Negril; lunch Jun-Oct; quarter/ Nov-May, dinner on Jamaican /US$7.50). arley’s A popular staple half chicken US$4 7 jerk chicken has been dining tables – marleyThe Pork Pit jerk joint for tains’ cooler Rd; 9 MoBay’s spiciest The Blue Moun ing for coffee grow open-air picnic Kept Secret $20). climate is ideal Dickie’s Best decades. Eat at a 300-year-old cliffside cottage tables shaded by is in an unsigned Try jerk chicken, west of Port 2 ORY 4 silk-cotton tree. on the A4, just e Butler BEST FOR HIST p with yams, Dicki by d hippies t House was pork, fish and shrim Antonio. It’s run Greenwood Grea d fritters) and promise to cook life and Richard Barrett festival (cornbrea and his wife who built by the Hon (00 1 876 952 want. Thus, the . They may the slave sweet potatoes you anything you in 1800. Surviving r Ave, Montego h ls have to be eous Seven , it still has muc 3663; 27 Glouceste five-course mea rebellion of 1831 809 6276; er; mains 876 dinn 1 y still has ture (00 1 876 Bay; lunch and pre-ordered (00 of its original furni dgreathouse. 2, dinner US$26). l reefs with US$5-US$17). 8 breakfast US$1 953 1077; greenwoo outh; , housed in an s Café 10 is Toscanini’s ing in the d, Falm Redbones Blue t com; Greenwoo one of the fines and culinary - tank dive 5). elegant villa, is a hive of cultural 9am-6pm; US$1 island. Enjoy de a seafood the ilscuba.com). restaurants on activity. Dishes inclu els and 5 n recipes with CODILES the fusion of Italia s, beneath the trio of shrimps, muss BEST FOR CRO sauce (00 1 nut is stained by TAINS 3 Jamaican ingredient fans salmon in a coco The Black River g Argyle Avenue, ides a complex slow-turning ceilin eastern half of 876 978 8262; 1 -Fri, tannins and prov ; Harmony Hall, and dinner Mon than 100 (00 1 876 975 4785 e Mountains are Kingston; lunch ecosystem for more and dinner s US$20-US$41). h Coast Safaris Ocho Rios; lunch brated coffee dinner Sat; main bird species. Sout US$10-US$25). Great Morass Tue-Sun; mains re you can offer tours to the ; departing etres above sea NS (00 1 876 965 2513 a BER LOCATIO house; tours ate in the cool of MAP AND NUM from the old ware at TURN OVER FOR 11am, 12.30pm, ides can be hired with lunch at 9am, 109 m; US$20-US$33). e gateway to the 2pm and 3.30p JULY/AUGUST 2011 day US$33/US$50).

This quaint city provides a great base to explore the four surrounding national parks

Tell us about your favourite restaurant, hotel or attraction in Shanghai, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Chennai and Vientiane. Email us at lpmagazine@regentmedia.sg and we’d love to run your recommendations in a future issue. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

an

Miri, Malaysia

Eat & drink

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WHY GO? As the second largest city in Sarawak, Miri is a good pit stop for those planning to head to the four major national parks that surround this city. There is also an array of commendable restaurants, cafes, bars and hotels perfect for a short getaway, and is a quaint alternative to the bustling Kuching.

WHEN TO GO

MINI GUIDE Sep/Oct 2011

Miri, Malaysia

HOW TO GO Both AirAsia (airasia. com) and Malaysia Airlines (malaysiaairlines.com) fly from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to Miri International Airport.

See

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BEST FOR HISTORY 1 Located at Canada Hill, Petroleum Museum has a few interesting displays on the source of the city’s wealth as well as exhibition of photographs and information on the petroleum industry (6085 635 516; Jln Canada Hill; 9am-5pm Tue-Sun; free). BEST FOR SHOPPING 2 Taking place every Friday evening to midday Sunday, Saberkas Weekend Market is one of the most colourful and friendliest market in Sarawak. Expect to find traditional handicrafts, jungle produce and seafood delicacies. BEST FOR ATMOSPHERE 3 Not far from Saberkas Weekend Market stands the atmospheric San Ching Tian Temple, which is the largest Taoist temple in Southeast Asia. Displaying oriental characteristics in its architectural design, the temple’s intricate dragon reliefs were brought all the way over from China. Expect colourful wall art, delicate lotus design motifs and a peaceful environment.

The temperature of Miri is relatively constant throughout the year, thus visiting this city is possible all year round. However, it is best to go from March to August and October to November, as Miri faces the problem of smoky haze caused by forest fires and clearing in Kalimantan during August and September.

Eat & drink

Find an exquisite collection of artefacts in Miri’s quaint stores

BEST FOR WALKING 4 An award wining civic centre that is rich in cultural, artistic and architectural features, City Fan is an expanse of themed gardens that boasts the largest open-air amphitheatre in Malaysia and an impressive sport complex. BEST FOR LAZING 5 A clean, palm-lined stretch of sand about 15 minutes outside town by bus, Hawaii Beach offers a perfect location for swimming and sun tanning. Spot fishermen selling fresh catches along the sparkling and sandy seaport, or stay over a night or two at the chalets along the coast.

Apollo Seafood Centre 6 is a popular Chinese seafood restaurant that is reputed to have the best seafood in Miri. We recommend the crabs and fried midin (a type of jungle fern) with belacan. For big spenders, opt for lobsters, which are taken straight out of the tank. Not far from Yu Lan Plaza stands the lively Central Market 7 – a large hawker centre that covers all the bases of Chinese, Malay and Indian food. This is easily the cheapest and best place to eat in Miri. Cross the street to Unity Food Centre to find more variety of local delicacies (Jln Brooke; from US$1). WZT Café 8 is a popular coffee shop/eatery good for breakfast and you can choose from toast served any number of ways. At lunch, the noodle dishes like marudi kueh tiaw, belacan bee hoon and kueh chap are some of the recommended dishes (Jln Merpati; breakfast and lunch; from US$1). Opposite Mega Hotel, Khan’s

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Savour tantalising lobster at Apollo Seafood Centre

Islamic Restaurant 9 is a simple canteen that is one of Miri’s best Indian eateries. The chef whips up tasty treats like mouth-watering tandoori chicken and aloo gobi (Indian potato and cauliflower dish) (299 Jln Maju; from US$1). Ming Café 10 is an ever-busy eating emporium that serves Malay, Chinese, Indian and Western food. It also offers a variety of beverages from fresh juices, signature tapioca teas to an assortment of beers and cocktails (cnr Jln North Yu Seng & Jln Merbau; mingcafe.com.my; lunch and dinner; from US$1).

TURN OVER FOR MAP AND NUMBER LOCATIONS SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

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Fish JustMarket 15 minutes away from Miri Jln C hina Hotel 11 is a Airport, Somerset 10 5 value-for-money accommodation with clean and Seafood comfortableJln Padang Stalls rooms, all at a surprisingly low24 cost. Le Brasserie Bistro serves a 21 1 variety of scrumptious local and western dishes (608 422 777; 26 somersethotelmiri.com; 12 dang 7 Pa Kwantung Centre Point Road; from US$32). Padang Commercial Jln The only proper backpacker-style 4 Centre option for miles, Highlands 12 9 is a6 great place toTomeet other(1.3km); City Homestay ParkCity Hotel (1.5km); travellers. Clean and Everly presentable Miri Marriott Resort & Spa (2km); Treetops Lodge (20km); dorms and private rooms are Borneo Rainforest Resort (40km) available a reasonable price. It To Miri Generalfor Hospital (3.5km); Airport (7km); Lambir Hills is located on the top floor of the National Park (32km); Niah Caves block ofNational shopsPark on(110km) the west side of town beside the Sungai Miri (608 422 327; 1271 Jln Sri Dagang; from US$13). Within walking distance from major shopping areas and government offices, Palace Inn 13 is significantly more comfortable and better run than most others in this price range, with the perk of 24-hour free wifi connection. (608 421 999; sarawak-hotels.com/palace-miri; Lot 192 Jln Kwangtung; from US$23).

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Experience a relaxing moment at Mandara Spa

16 PARTY AWAY

A short taxi ride from city centre hotels takes you to a warren of small bar-lined streets called Pelita Commercial Centre, where funky pubs, lively bars and clubs congregate. Select over a hundred cocktails at Island; join the younger crowd at Balcony with music mixed of R&B, pop and techno; or watch a soccer game at Al Fresco.

pleasant walking trails through its dipterocarp rainforest. See the Latuk Waterfall, climb the Bukit Pantu hill, or go wildlife-watching and catch sight of gibbons, tarsiers and pangolins (608 549 1030; 8am-5pm; from US$3.50).

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Miri Mariott Resort & Spa is set within the paradise of world famous national parks and diving spots. This hotel boasts the largest pool in Sarawak, and its exotic aromas and soothing music at the Mandara Spa guarantee a relaxing experience. (608 542 1121; marriott.com/ myymc; Jln Temenggong Datuk Oyong Lawai; from US$108). Park City Everly Hotel 15 is a large resort-style hotel fronting the South China Sea along an attractive beach. The hotel has 167 tastefully furnished rooms and suites with commendable amenities. (608 440 288; vhhotel. com; Jln Temenggong Datuk Oyong Lawai; from US$55).

Your recommendations

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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

NATURE’S WONDER

17 Listed as a UNESCO World

Heritage site, Gunung Mulu National Park’s wonders include the world’s most brilliant old-growth tropical rainforest, the pinnacles formation on Mt Api, rugged mountains, deep gorges with clear rivers, and a unique mosaic of living habitats (608 5433 561; mulupark.com; 8am-5pm; from US$3.50).

18 PICNIC PERFECT

A perennial favourite among the locals, Lambir Hills National Park is a scenic scrap of jungle that offers waterfalls, picnic areas and a clutch of

The impressive pinnacles in Gunung Mulu National Park

FIND OUT MORE Check out Lonely Planet’s Borneo guide (US$22.99), which has a chapter of Miri. You can also download the chapter on Sarawak from lonelyplanet.com (US$4.95).

COMPILED BY DARREN WONG PHOTOGRAPHS: MALAYSIA TOURISM BOARD, SXC.HU

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GETTING AROUND Miri’s city centre is easily accessible by foot. Taxi from the city to the airport cost US$7; bus fares from US$1. Buses run from 7am to 6pm. There are also several taxi stands within arm’s reach of the visitor’s centre.

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MINI GUIDE 1 Miri, Malaysia

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WHY GO? India’s capital is in places a city of medieval mayhem – crowded, polluted and intense. But it’s also the maiden aunt of late-British colonial rule and showcase of a modern republic. Like a subcontinental Rome, it brims with ruins and monuments.

WHEN TO GO Delhi is a city of extreme temperatures, with the mercury rising to 45°C in summer and dropping to 5°C in winter. The best time to visit is February to March, and post-monsoon mid-September to the end November.

MINI GUIDE Sep/Oct 2011

Delhi,

India

HOW TO GO Air India (airindia.in), Jet Airways (jetairways.com), and Singapore Airlines (singaporeair.com) fly direct from Singapore to Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport 16 kilometres southwest of the city. From Kuala Lumpur, fly direct with Air Asia X (airasia. com) or Malaysia Airlines (malaysiaairlines.com). LEFT Humayun’s Tomb. RIGHT Hand-carved Indian elephant

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BEST FOR HISTORY 1 The vast Red Fort is a sandstone carcass of its former self but is still the best place to imagine the Mughal city’s splendour. It dates from the 17th century, a time of eunuchs, ceremonial elephants and an interior clad in precious stones (Lahore Gate; 9am-6pm Tue-Sun; US$5.70). BEST FOR VIEWS 2 India’s largest mosque, Jama Masjid, was built in the 17th century by emperor Shah Jahan and can hold 25,000 worshippers. Climb the southern minaret (women must be accompanied by a man) for superb city views (non-Muslims 8.30am–12.30pm and 2pm–4.30pm; minaret US$1.60). BEST FOR ARCHITECTURE 3 A stunning marriage of Persian landscaping and 16th-century Mughal architecture, Humayun’s Tomb was the first building to combine white marble and red sandstone. The gardens are a magical place to wander at sunset (off Mathura Road; dawn–dusk; US$5.70).

Eat & drink

Visit the Red Fort, begun in 1638 by emperor Shah Jahan

BEST FOR STROLLING 4 From Raisina Hill, the ceremonial Rajpath (Kings Way) leads through architect Edwin Lutyens’ plaza to the sandstone arch of India Gate. Lined with water features and lawns it takes in the President’s House (larger than Versailles), the North and South Secretariat and the Mughal Gardens. BEST FOR SHOPPING 5 Connaught Place is home to the outdoor Janpath Market and the covered Palika Bazaar. Find good-value silverware, pottery, fabrics and handicrafts from all over India from the Aladdin’s cave of Central Cottage Industries Emporium (Janpath; 10am–7pm).

In Chandni Chowk market you’ll find foodstall-lined Paratha Wali Gali 6 , Delhi’s most famous food street. Potato, almond or white radish-stuffed parathas (flat breads) come fresh off the hotplate and are served with tangy pickles (Chandni Chowk; Mon-Sat; parathas US$0.70). A hole-in-the-wall joint in Khan Market, Khan Chacha’s 7 kebabs and rolls are so popular that you’ll probably have to queue. Try roti-wrapped mutton seekh or paneer tikka, which are well worth the wait (Flat 50, Middle Lane, Khan Market; 12–11pm Mon-Sun; snacks US$0.80). Over the last six decades, Moti Mahal 8 has become an institution renowned for Mughlai cuisine. Faded interiors need updating but the food is still top quality. Try the buttered chicken with a dhal makhani – slowcooked, spiced lentils (00 91 11 2327 3661; 3704 Netaji Subhash Marg, Daryaganj; lunch and dinner; mains US$3.20–US$7.30).

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Try stuffed parathas from stalls on Paratha Wali Gali, Chandni Chowk

Swagath 9 serves brilliant Mangalorian and Chettinad cuisine, notably seafood dishes. Favourites at the smart, six-floor restaurant are its dal-e-Swagat (lentil curry) and coconut chicken curry (00 91 11 2433 7538; swagath.in; 14 Defence Colony; lunch and dinner; US$4–US$20). Bukhara 10 is considered Delhi’s best restaurant, serving tandoori cuisine of the northwest. Its kebabs, tandoor and dhal are particularly feted. Booking is essential (00 91 11 2611 2233; ITC Maurya, Sadar Patel Marg; lunch and dinner; US$11–US$16).

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MINI GUIDE Delhi, India

Getting around

See

6 2

Eat & drink

Sleep

Essentials FIND YOUR WAY Tickets for Delhi’s Metro are sold at stations (one/three-day pass US$2.10/US$5.60; delhimetrorail. com). Try cycle-rickshaws, the best way to get around Old Delhi, or order an autorickshaw from pre-paid booths at New Delhi train station and Palika Bazaar Gate No2.

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A find in a leafy suburb, Delhi Bed and Breakfast 11 is run by the helpful Pervez and Lubna. Its three rooms have individual touches, traditional furnishings, plus there’s a roof terrace. Book ahead (00 91 98 1105 7103; delhibedandbreakfast.com; A-6 Friends Colony East; US$82). Thikana 12 is the home of Atul and Sheetal, who are passionate about sharing their knowledge of Delhi and its arts and music. The eight rooms have Indian artefacts, rugs and paintings, all by local artists and craftsmen, creating a luxurious homestay that’s worth every rupee (00 91 11 4604 1569; thikanadelhi.com; A-7 Gulmohar Park; from US$135). Secluded and in Nizamuddin East, with views over Humayun’s Tomb from the roof, B nineteen 13 shows an architect’s touch. Rooms are spacious and cool, decorated in contemporary ethnic style and with mosaic-tiled bathrooms. There’s also a shared kitchen on each floor (00 91 11 4182 5500; bnineteen.com; B-19 Nizamuddin East; from US$170).

LOTUS TEMPLE The Bahai House of Worship is a unusual attraction because the majority of its visitors are from India not overseas. Built in the 1980s, it resembles a full-circle Sydney Opera House or an opening lotus flower. Outside you can savour the architecture of the temple and its gardens. Inside is a peaceful and relaxing space where you can’t help but collect your thoughts. There is also an insightful museum providing a fascinating introduction to the Bahai faith (Kalkaji; closed Mon). Jennifer Hopes

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Delhi Bed and Breakfast has a pretty plant-filled roof terrace

For a more intimate alternative to Delhi’s five-star hotels, try The Manor 14 set amid manicured lawns. The bungalow offers luxury with elegance. Rooms have modern bathrooms, king-sized beds and silk coverlets (00 91 11 2692 5151; themanor delhi.com; 77 Friends Colony West; from US$170). The Raj-era Imperial 15 marries Victorian classicism with gilded art deco. It houses a fine collection of 17th- and 18thcentury paintings, and has hosted princesses and pop stars. Rooms have large beds with French linens and opulent marble bathrooms (00 91 11 2334 1234; theimperial india.com; Janpath; from US$390).

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LUNCH IN THE PARK 17 Lodi Restaurant, within Lodi Gardens, is a serene setting for a lunch break. The alfresco seating is superbly relaxing, especially if you are able to grab one of the four-poster booths, and the constant honking of the city seems miles away. A varied (although slightly pricey) menu is offered, with an extensive list of salad and pasta dishes (11am– 11.30pm; mains US$5–US$10). Jacqui Brooks

MEMORIES IN STONE

18 Away from the crowds, the palm tree-lined path beyond the arched gateway to Safdarjung’s Tomb transports you into a world of serene and leisurely solitude. Inside the Mughal-style gardens, visualise the bustle in this once lived-in sandstone and marble mausoleum. Contemplate the fortunes of the powerful Mughal minister Safdarjung, or simply stroll around in the idyllic setting (Aurobindo Marg; US$2.50). Jason John FIND OUT MORE Lonely Planet’s Rajasthan, Delhi & Agra guidebook (US$24.99) has an extensive chapter on Delhi. You can also download the Delhi chapter from the India guidebook at lonelyplanet.com (US$4.95) and get more practical details at delhitourism.nic.in. Alive with the mayhem of the present-day city, William Dalrymple’s City of Djinns is a fascinating portrait of Delhi.

COMPILED BY PAULA HARDY, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM AMELIA THOMAS. PHOTOGRAPHS: 4CORNERS, GETTY IMAGES, SHUTTERSTOCK

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Dreamlike and dramatic at the same time, Cappadocia in central Turkey is a world of its own WHY GO?

MINI GUIDE Sep/Oct 2011

Cappadocia,

Turkey

Born from the millennia-old eruption of the Erciyes Dag˘i volcano, the troglodyte architecture of Cappadocia is unique – a bizarre terrain of rock columns, pyramids and mushrooms, where ancient empires made their homes.

WHAT IS THERE TO DO? The valleys and eroded rock forms known as fairy chimneys mark this alluring landscape. Look closely and you’ll see churches and homes cut into the rock, often decorated with rich frescoes. You can take in a Cappadocian dawn from a hot-air balloon, and sunset from the terrace of your boutique cave hotel. Left: fairy chimneys. Above: a ride in a hot-air balloon is a must

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BEST FOR LANDSCAPES 1 Göreme Open-Air Museum is a World Heritage site dotted with medieval painted cave churches, less than a mile uphill from Göreme village. The buildings are carved from soft volcanic stone and decorated with Byzantine frescoes (Göreme Açik Hava Müzesi; 8am-5pm; US$10). BEST FOR VIEWS 2 A dawn balloon ride over deep-worn valleys and fairy chimneys is a truly magical experience. Try ezairballoons.com and sultanballoons.com in Ürgüp, or kapadokyaballoons.com in Göreme (most mornings, Apr-Nov; from US$250). BEST FOR HISTORY 3 Kaymakli is one of the largest of Cappadocia’s 37 yeralti ¸sehri (underground cities) open to the public. Built more than 13 centuries ago as a refuge for Byzantine Christians from Persian and Arab armies, the cities contain homes, churches and stables, and are fascinating if claustrophobic (8am-5pm; US$10).

Eat & drink

The churches of Göreme Open-Air Museum are covered in frescoes

BEST FOR ATMOSPHERE 4 The twin valleys of Sog˘lani are magnificent, even if they didn’t feature in Star Wars despite mischievous guides’ claims. The northernmost valley is easily circuited on foot in about two hours, taking in the many rock-cut churches. BEST FOR ADVENTURE 5 Trekking routes cross the craggy limestone ranges dotted with waterfalls in the Ala Dag˘lar National Park. It’s best to get a guide (around US$73 per day) and to trek between June and September (middleearthtravel. com; demavendtravel.com; trekkinginturkeys.com).

The restaurant of the Old Greek House 6 hotel is one of the best places to try Ottoman cuisine in the region. Prepared by village women, dishes include barbunya (lima beans in tomato sauce), carrot salad and fantastic baklava. The hotel (from US$57) is also an excellent place to stay (00 90 384 353 5141; oldgreekhouse. com; S¸ahin Caddesi, Mustafapas¸a; mains US$4–US$13). Despite its uninspired name, Local Restaurant 7 is one of Göreme’s best. There’s a terrace and an elegant, stone-walled dining room. Service is attentive and the scrumptious dishes are reasonably priced (00 90 384 271 2629; Müze Caddesi 38, Göreme; mains US$7.30). Cool Ziggy’s 8 , named after the David Bowie song, has stylish décor on multi-level terraces and a jazz soundtrack. You can opt for a cocktail or the 12-course set menu (00 90 384 341 7107; Yunak Mahallesi, Teyfik Fikret Caddesi 24, Ürgüp; mains US$8–US$10.50).

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Dimrit’s terrace is a great place to sit back and watch the sunset

With its hillside terraces, Dimrit is a top spot to eat and spend a sunset. The menu features salads, fish, grills and specials such as lamb kebab with eggplant purée (00 90 384 341 8585; Yunak Mahallesi, Teyfik Fikret Caddesi 40, Ürgüp; mains US$6.50–US$14). Style meets substance at A’laturca 10 . Pick one of the many seating areas, such as the garden with its beanbag seating, and try the succulent Erciyes kebab, served on fried potatoes and garlic yoghurt (00 90 384 271 2882; alaturca.com.tr; Müze Caddesi, Göreme; mains US$6.50–US$16). 9

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MINI GUIDE Cappadocia, Turkey

Getting around

See

Eat & drink

Sleep

Essentials GETTING THERE Turkish Airlines (turkishairlines. com) flies from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to Kayseri Erkilet Airport via Istanbul.

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Göreme’s first boutique hotel has the best terrace in the village for surveying the Cappadocian landscape. Kelebek Hotel and Cave Pension 11 is a 32-roomer that ranges across stone houses and two fairy chimneys. Newer suites have their own dining terrace (00 90 384 271 2531; kelebekhotel.com; Yavuz Sokak 1, Göreme; from US$63). Esbelli Evi 12 creates an atmosphere of hilltop serenity. Many of its 15 rooms are cut into the sandstone, and the communal areas are decorated with Ottoman furnishings. It feels welcoming and intimate (00 90 384 341 3395; esbelli.com; Esbelli Mahallesi Sokak 8, Ürgüp; from US$125). It has only five rooms, but 4ODA Cave House 13 has more than its fair share of atmosphere and comfort, with everything in the rooms arranged around original cave features. The cheerful owner rustles up superb homemade jams and pastries for breakfast (00 90 384 341 6080; 4oda.com; Esbelli Mahallesi Sokak 46, Ürgüp; from US$130). 104

16 PITTA PLEASE

Esbelli Evi is a welcoming hotel with rooms cut into the sandstone

Located six miles south of Ürgüp, Ayvali is a tiny unspoilt village with a gorgeous 25-room boutique hotel. Gamirasu Hotel 14 occupies a 1,000-year-old Byzantine monastery and offers top-end comfort in a secluded gorge (00 90 384 341 7485; gamirasu.com; Ayvali; from US$135). The swish Anatolian Houses 15 occupies a group of fairy chimneys and took six years to build. You’ll be bowled over by the swimming pools, hamam and sauna, as well as the sleek restaurant. This is as luxurious as Cappadocia gets (00 90 384 271 2463; anatolianhouses.com.tr; Gaferli Mahallesi, Ünlü Sokak, Göreme; from US$350).

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Kale Terrasse is a great restaurant right in the centre of Göreme, with lovely food and a nice terrace setting in the midst of the fairy chimneys – ideal for watching the world go by. I recommend the huge and tasty pitta bread with hummus and cacik (yoghurt with cucumber and mint). The meatballs and shish kebaps are also very good (Belediye Caddesi, Göreme; mains US$3.20–US$18). Rob Marshall

17 RUIN WITH A VIEW

Lonely Planet forum users (lonelyplanet.com) rate Uçhisar Castle. A tall, volcanic rock outcrop riddled with tunnels and windows, the castle is visible for miles around and has panoramic views of the Cappadocian countryside. Watching the sun set over the Rose and Pigeon Valleys from the castle is a popular activity. Although now a tourist attraction with terrace cafés, it doesn’t yet have safety barriers, so take care (Uçhisar Kalesi; US$2; 8am-8.15pm).

VILLAGE OF DOLLS Another recommendation from Lonely Planet forum users (lonelyplanet.com) is the small and untouristy village of Sog˘lanı, between the twin Sog˘lanı valleys. It’s tricky to reach by public transport so you’ll need to rent a car, but the drive there is stunning and the open countryside makes a pleasant change from central Cappadocia’s canyons. In the village square, local women sell the handmade dolls for which Sog˘lanı is famous.

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FIND OUT MORE The Lonely Planet Turkey guide (US$25.99) has an extensive chapter on Cappadocia, with plenty of tips on where to stay and what to see in the region’s towns and villages. The chapter can also be downloaded online from lonelyplanet.com for US$4.95. More information can be found online at cappadocia.travel.

PHOTOGRAPHS: PHOTOLIBRARY

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WHY GO? Seedy, salacious, sexy Marseille is the Med’s largest, most vibrant port and was recently the recipient of a multi-million dollar regeneration programme, which is being used to transform the city before it takes on the mantle of European Capital of Culture in 2013.

WHEN TO GO

MINI GUIDE Sep/Oct 2011

Marseille,

France

July and August are hot and expensive, but you’ll enjoy the best cultural and artistic festivals such as the Five Continents Jazz Festival and the Feast of the Assumption. May and September are best for touring the coast, and March is carnival time.

HOW TO GO To get to Aeroport Marseille-Provence, which is 27 kilometres northwest of Marseille, fly into Paris and connect with Air France (airfrance. com) or fly into London and connect with British Airways (britishairways.com), easyJet (easyjet.com) or Ryanair (ryanair.com). LEFT Marseille’s port. RIGHT Tuck into a variety of seafood at the many harbour restaurants

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BEST FOR VIEWS 1 Be blown away by the city views and 19th-century architecture at the hilltop Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde, the RomanoByzantine basilica that dominates Marseille’s skyline. Built between 1853 and 1864, it is crowned with a 9.7m-tall statue of the Virgin (00 33 4 91 134 080; Montée de la Bonne Mère; 7am-7pm). BEST FOR CULTURE 2 The southern quay of the Vieux Port is where it all happens. Marseille’s old fish auction house is now the Théâtre National de Marseille at No 30; locals play pétanque at legendary nightclub Le Trolleybus at No 24; and cafés buzz until the early hours on Cours Honoré d’Estienne d’Orves. BEST FOR HISTORY 3 Immortalised in Alexandre Dumas’ 1840s novel The Count of Monte Cristo, 16th-century fortress-turned-prison Château d’If sits on the tiny island Île d’If. Frioul If Express boats sail to it from the Vieux Port (00 33 4 91 465 465; 9.30am-5.30pm; US$13).

Eat & drink

Le Panier’s specialist shops are perfect for picking up souvenirs

BEST FOR SHOPPING 4 Originally the site of the Greek agora (marketplace), Le Panier’s cobbled lanes remain lined with specialist shops and artists’ ateliers. Best buy: savon de Marseille (soap) from Compagnie de Provence (1 Rue Caisserie). BEST FOR MINIATURES 5 Santons are a Christmas tradition in Provence – tiny terracotta nativity statues of anything from angels to chestnut sellers. Watch the figures being hand-painted at Atelier du Santon (santons marcelcarbonel.com; 47 Rue Neuve Ste-Catherine), or visit the Musée du Santon next door (00 33 4 91 13 61 36; Tue-Sat; free).

Created around a veggie patch and herb garden, La Passarelle 6 has the air of a secret garden. Retro vintage tables and chairs sit on a terrace beside the strawberry beds. Everything growing in the garden goes into the organic menu (00 33 6 68 627 787; 52 rue du Plan Fourmiguier, 7e; lunch and dinner Tue-Sat; mains US$20). Marseille has some of the best North African food north of the Med. At Le Souk 7 dine on great tagines (slow-cooked stews) and honey-soaked pastries (00 33 4 91 91 29 29; 100 quai du Port, 2e; closed Mon and dinner Sun; menus US$24–US$40). For a dreamy sunset meal in the calanques, book a table on the covered terrace of Nautic Bar 8 where you’ll dine on fish à la Provençale and supions (panfried squid in garlic). Look for the pretty peach cottage with a green canopy (00 33 4 91 400 637; Calanque de Morgiou; lunch and dinner Apr-Oct; mains US$33).

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Experience the best bouillabaisse in all Marseille at Le Miramar

When it comes to serving up authentic bouillabaisse, the city’s signature dish, Le Miramar 9 , with its pretty quayside terrace at the Vieux Port, cannot be beat (00 33 4 91 911 040; bouillabaisse. com; 12 quai du Port, 2e; lunch and dinner Tue-Sat; bouillabaisse meal US$68 for two). Set out over the sea, Peron 10 provides a superior gastronomic experience. Choose the roast duck with candied kumquats (00 33 4 91 521 522; restaurantperon.com; 56 corniche Président John F Kennedy, 7e; lunch and dinner; mains US$55).

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MINI GUIDE Marseille, France

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FIND YOUR WAY Car rental companies can be found at the airport and central train. Régie des Transports Marseillais (RTM) runs the bus, metro and tram lines. Tickets can be used on any combination (6 rue des Fabres, 1er for information).

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Your recommendations

Retro 1950s furnishings and cosy communal spaces give stylish hostel Hôtel Vertigo 11 a relaxed ambiance. The double rooms are particularly funky, two are in traditional cabanons (fishing cabins) in the courtyard (00 33 4 91 910 711; hotelvertigo. fr; 42 rue des Petites Maries, 1er; doubles from US$81). Wake up to the breezy beach-house vibe of Hôtel Le Richelieu 12 , teetering on a rocky ledge that overhangs the sea. All rooms have spectacular views of the Côte Bleue and Château d’If. The adjacent beach is open between June and September (00 33 4 91 310 192; lerichelieu-marseille.com; 52 corniche Président John F Kennedy, 7e; from US$90). Antique shops surround the good value Hôtel Edmond Rostand 13 , in the elegant Quartier des Antiquaires. Some of its 16 contemporary-style rooms overlook a tiny private garden, others have views of rooftops and the basilica (00 33 4 91 377 495; hoteledmondrostand.com; 31 rue du Dragon, 6e; from US$115).

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Lounge around at pretty Le Petit Nice-Passédat

The beautiful Villa Monticelli has five rooms, all individually decorated with elegant period furnishings and large beds. The amazing breakfast of homemade jams, yoghurt and crêpes can be enjoyed out on the terrace (00 33 4 91 221 520; villamonticelli.com; 96 rue du Commandant Rolland, 8e; from US$135). Le Petit Nice-Passédat 15 is perched on the rocks above a tiny cove. The 16 rooms are modern in style, and most overlook the pool and cacti garden. The hotel is also home to Gerald Passédat’s three Michelin-starred restaurant (00 33 4 91 592 592; passedat.fr; Anse de Maldormé, 7e; from US$310). 14

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Carry-le-Rouet is a small village just outside Marseille; about 20 minutes drive from the airport. The village is centred around a small harbour, and has a good selection of restaurants, all with great views across the water, plus a small cinema and casino. The restaurant Le Saint Trop is very good, but a little expensive (lesaintrop.fr). There are excellent cheaper restaurants further along the quay and all have outdoor dining areas (otcarrylerouet.fr, in French). Anna Ingram COASTAL CRUISE 17 Lonely Planet forum users (lonelyplanet.com) rate the Calanques, a series of dramatic rocky inlets along the coast road to Cassis. The most picturesque coves are usually only accessible on foot, but between April and October a reservation at Nautic Bar in Morgiou (see Eat & drink) or Le Lunch (00 33 4 91 250 539) in Sormiou lets you drive down to the water’s edge. The best views however are from a boat. Return

trips run from the Vieux Port (croisieres-marseille-calanques. com; 2½-3¼ hours; US$25–US$34).

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Toinou is a very good fish restaurant close to La Canebière, Marseille’s main shopping street. It’s extremely basic, spread over two or three floors, and very popular. I had a mixed seafood platter, with oysters, clams and lobster (toinou.com, in French; 3 cours Saint-Louis; daily). Charles Nicholson FIND OUT MORE Lonely Planet’s Provence & the Côte d’Azur (US$21.99) has a chapter on Marseille. You can also download the Provence chapter from lonelyplanet.com (US$4.95). Visit marseilletourisme.com for more ideas on things to do. For a flavour of multicultural Marseille, read The Marseilles Trilogy by Jean-Claude Izzo, the Marseille-raised son of Spanish and Italian immigrants.

COMPILED BY PAULA HARDY WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM NICOLA WILLIAMS. PHOTOGRAPHS: LONELY PLANET IMAGES, SHUTTERSTOCK, ALAMY

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WHY GO? Edinburgh is a beautiful city entangled in an impressive landscape. The rocky cliffs of Salisbury Crags overlook one end of the Old Town and the leafy corridor of the Water of Leith snakes along the terraces of the New Town.

WHEN TO GO

MINI GUIDE Sep/Oct 2011

Edinburgh, Scotland

Visit in the spring for the cherry blossom, in August and September for the Edinburgh International Festival (eif.co.uk) and winter for the ice rink in Princes Street Gardens.

HOW TO GO To get to Edinburgh Airport, fly into London and connect with British Airways (britishairways.com), easyJet (easyjet.com) or British Midland Airways Limited (flybmi.com). The Airlink bus will take you to the city centre (edinburghshuttle.co.uk). LEFT View over the city from Calton Hill. RIGHT Listen to bagpipes at the castle in summer

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BEST FOR WALKS 1 You can amble (or cycle) along the wooded riverbanks of the 12-mile Water of Leith Walkway, which runs from the city centre upstream to the Pentland Hills or downstream to Leith. A good short walk is from Stockbridge to historic Dean Village, where the waterway is spanned by a Thomas Telford bridge.

Eat & drink

The Water of Leith Walkway is a haven for nature in the city

BEST FOR ARCHITECTURE 2 Charlotte Square was designed by Robert Adam in 1791 and its northern side has some of the finest Georgian architecture anywhere. The Georgian House has been beautifully restored (0131 226 3318; 7 Charlotte Square; 10am-5pm Apr-Oct, 11am-3pm Mar & Nov).

BEST FOR VIEWS 4 Princes Street has great shopping, but also expansive views of the castle and Old Town. At the eastern end the Scott Monument has an exhibition of Sir Walter Scott’s life and a spire you can climb (0131 529 4068; East Princes Street Gardens; 10am-7pm Apr-Sep, 9am-4pm Oct-Mar; US$5).

BEST FOR HISTORY 3 The Palace of Holyroodhouse is the royal family’s official residence in Scotland, but is most famous for being the 16th-century home of Mary, Queen of Scots. Explore its sumptuous royal apartments (0131 556 5100; royalcollection. org.uk; Canongate; daily; US$16).

BEST FOR ROYAL YACHTS 5 Moored in Leith, Edinburgh’s main port, the former Royal Yacht Britannia was the royal family’s floating home from 1953 until 1997 – it’s a monument to 1950s style (0131 555 5566; royalyacht britannia.co.uk; Ocean Terminal, Leith; daily; US$17).

L’Alba d’Oro 6 is more than just a fabulous chippy: you wouldn’t expect a 300-plus wine list at your average deep-fryer, nor could you get zesty prawn suppers or veggie haggis (0131 557 2580; lalbadoro. com; 5-7 Henderson Row; fish supper US$10). Fishers 7 in Leith, tucked beneath a 17th-century signal tower, is one of the city’s best seafood places. The menu ranges from battered coley with chervil mayonnaise, to North Berwick lobster with a prawn and caper crust, (0131 554 5666; fishersbistros.co.uk; 1 The Shore, Leith; mains US$17–US$57). Named after a mountain in northwestern Scotland, Stac Polly 8 gives sophisticated twists to fresh Highland produce, such as haggis in filo parcels with sweet plum and red wine sauce (0131 556 2231; stacpolly.com; 29-33 Dublin St; dinner-only on Sat; mains US$29–US$36). Pass through the doors of the Café Royal Oyster Bar 9 and

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Treat yourself to a seafood feast at the Café Royal Oyster Bar

enter a Victorian palace of mahogany, brass, marble floors, Doulton tiles and starched linen. The menu is mostly classic seafood, with a few beef and game dishes (0131 556 4124; caferoyal.org.uk; 17a West Register St; mains US$18–US$39). Tower 10 sits atop the Museum of Scotland and has great views of the castle. It serves quality Scottish food, simply prepared – try half a dozen oysters followed by a fillet of Borders beef (0131 225 3003; tower-restaurant.com; Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street; mains US$24–US$54).

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MINI GUIDE Edinburgh, Scotland

Find your way

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Essentials GETTING AROUND Lothian Buses and First Edinburgh are the two main bus operators. (single fare US$1.50; lothianbuses. co.uk, firstedinburgh.co.uk). The city is well equipped with bike lanes and cycle tracks, and Biketrax rents out bikes and equipment (US$26 per day; biketrax.co.uk).

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Your recommendations

Bright and arty Cluaran House 11 is known for its welcoming owners. There are period features, wooden floorboards and original artworks throughout the house, with some for sale. Breakfasts are also good (0131 221 0047; cluaran-house-edinburgh.co.uk; 47 Leamington Terrace; from US$130). Though set in a typical Victorian terrace, the Southside Guest House 12 transcends the b&b category and feels more like a modern boutique hotel. Its eight rooms have a strong design aesthetic, with bold colour schemes, wrought-iron beds, oriental rugs and contemporary furnishings (0131 668 4422; southsideguesthouse.co.uk; 8 Newington Rd; from US$145). Six Mary’s Place 13 is an attractive Georgian townhouse where tranquil rooms have large sash windows and tiled fireplaces. Breakfast is served in the conservatory overlooking the secluded walled garden (0131 332 8965; sixmarysplace.co.uk; 6 Mary’s Place; from US$160). With Hotel Missoni 14 , the eponymous Italian fashion house

16 TRAILBLAZING

Hotel Missoni is a bold addition to Edinburgh’s historic Old Town

has established a style icon in the heart of the Old Town: modernist architecture, impeccable staff and very comfortable bedrooms. Furnishings display Missoni’s signature zigzag patterns (0131 220 6666; hotelmissoni.com; 1 George IV Bridge; from US$295). Set in a 16th-century house, the Witchery by the Castle 15 offers seven lavish suites. All are furnished with antiques, oak panelling, tapestries, open fires and roll-top baths, and supplied with flowers, chocolates and complimentary champagne. It’s popular – you’ll have to book several months in advance (0131 225 5613; thewitchery.com; Castlehill, Royal Mile; suite US$480).

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

A cobbled street in the affluent Stockbridge area leads to Edinburgh’s best secret – The Raconteur. On first impression it’s an average bar but the large selection of specialist alcoholic beverages and little potion jars lined neatly at the bar draws you in like a kid in a sweet shop. An excellent cocktail list, helpful staff and heavenly ambience welcome you in like a long lost friend. In winter months I’d recommend their Trailblazer cocktail – it’s a real warmer for the soul (0131 343 3221; theraconteuredinburgh. com; 50 Dean Street). Claire Coleman JOLLY GEORGE

17 The George Hotel is warm and comfortable, and the staff welcoming and helpful. Our room was spotless and well appointed, if a tad small, and the food was excellent. The George is perfectly situated for access to all the sights of Edinburgh being a short walk from Princess Street. We’ll definitely stay again next time we visit (0131 225 1251; principal-

hayley.com; 19-21 George Street; from US$180). Dyanna Swindlehurst GARDEN OF EDENBURGH Wander through the Royal Botanic Garden to see the amazingly different shades of green. A visit to the glasshouse is especially warm and inviting in winter. The rockeries, with their exotic plants, are perhaps a little preview of heaven (rbge.org.uk; Inverleith Row; open daily). Ann Treen

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FIND OUT MORE Lonely Planet’s Scotland guide (US$22.99) has a chapter on Edinburgh, which you can also download from lonelyplanet. com (US$4.95). Edinburgh Encounter is a pocket-sized guide (US$12.99). For an insight into the less picturesque side of the city, get involved in the crime-ridden world of Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus. For practical information, refer to visitscotland.com.

COMPILED BY PAULA HARDY WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM NEIL WILSON. PHOTOGRAPHS: ALAMY, SHUTTERSTOCK

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WHY GO? Even if San Francisco’s streets aren’t paved with gold, they are splashed with rainbow-coloured murals and the skies over North Beach are ruled by trash-talking parrots. Whimsical Victorian rooflines zigzag up and down the city’s 43 hills, while year-round parades are all the excuse you need to throw on a boa.

WHEN TO GO

MINI GUIDE Sep/Oct 2011

San Francisco,

USA

With its foggy micro-climate, San Francisco’s weather can be variable. April and May bring cherry blossoms and the mid-May Carnival. September and October are the warmest months of the year, while July and August are known for rolling fog.

HOW TO GO Singapore Airlines (singaporeair. com) flies direct from Singapore Changi International Airport to San Francisco. From airport, the Brazil train shuttle runs to the city centre (bart.gov). LEFT The Golden Gate Bridge. RIGHT Oysters thrive in muddy San Francisco Bay

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BEST FOR VIEWS 1 Film buffs say Hitchcock was right: seen from below at Fort Point, the 1,280-metre Golden Gate Bridge induces vertigo. Also, try the north-end lookout at Marin’s Vista Point and watch gusts of fog billow through bridge cables like dry ice (goldengatebridge.org; southbound car toll US$6.50). BEST FOR HISTORY 2 Until 1963, the island of Alcatraz was a maximum-security prison, holding famous crime bosses such as Al Capone. Ferries leave from Pier 33. The fare includes entrance to the park (day only) and an audio tour of the prison cells. Book ahead (alcatrazcruises. com; day/night US$26/US$33). BEST FOR WHALES 3 December to May is peak season for whale-watching. The Oceanic Society leads whale-watching expeditions from Yacht Harbor. Trips depart from Fort Mason and last about six hours (oceanicsociety.org; Fort Mason Quarters 35; 9am-5pm Mon-Fri; tours from US$90).

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San Francisco Museum of Modern Art – New York's West Coast rival

BEST FOR ART 4 San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has arguably the world’s leading photography collection, with works by Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, Edward Weston and Dorothea Lange (00 1 415 357 4000; sfmoma.org; 151 3rd Street; 11am-5.45pm Mon, Tue and Fri-Sun, 11am-8.45pm Thurs; US$18). BEST FOR PARKS 5 Everything that San Franciscans hold dear can be found at Golden Gate Park: free thinkers, free music, redwoods, Frisbees and fine art. Park information is available at McLaren Lodge (00 1 415 831 2700; golden-gate-park. com; Stanyan St; Mon-Fri; free).

Francis Ford Coppola drafted The Godfather at Caffe Trieste 6 and local Poet Laureate Lawrence Ferlinghetti still drops in. Sonnets decorate the bathroom walls, opera plays on the jukebox and there are accordion sessions on Sundays (00 1 415 392 6739; caffetrieste.com; 601 Vallejo St; lunch and dinner; coffee US$3.20). Mexican La Taquería 7 serves fantastic burritos: perfectly grilled meats, flavourful beans and classic salsa inside a flour tortilla, with optional homemade spicy pickled vegetables and crème fraîche (00 1 415 285 7117; 2889 Mission St; lunch and dinner; burritos from US$4). At Hog Island Oyster Bar 8 local Tomales Bay oysters are served with superb condiments and a glass of bubbly. Oysters cost 65p on Monday and Thursday happy hours, from 5pm to 7pm (00 1 415 391 7117; hogisland oysters.com; 1 Ferry Bldg; lunch and dinner Mon-Fri, lunch Sat and Sun; oyster samplers from US$16).

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Dine on scallops, organic melon and Tsar Nicoulai caviar at Jardinière 9 , where Chef Traci Des Jardins is a multiple winner of the James Beard Foundation Award. All ingredients are local, sustainable and seasonal (00 1 415 861 5555; jardiniere.com; 300 Grove St; dinner; mains from US$20). Don't expect to be given a menu at reservation-only Jai Yun 10 . Instead, indulge in 12- to 16-course Shanghai-style feasts in the mirrored interior (00 1 415 981 7438; menuscan.com/jaiyun; 680 Clay St; lunch and dinner Fri-Wed; multicourse banquets from US$46).

TURN OVER FOR MAP AND NUMBER LOCATIONS SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

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MINI GUIDE San Francisco, USA

Find your way

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Essentials GETTING AROUND It's easy to get around the city on MUNI buses, trams and BART trains (single fare US$1.50; bart. gov). Taxis are plentiful and can be flagged down or pre-booked. Try the fuel-efficient Green Cab (from US$3; sfgreencab.com).

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Pinot Noir from US$20 l Mid-range meal US$24-US$40 l Mid-range hotel US$120-US$245 l High-end hotel from US$245

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Your recommendations

The Dakota Hotel 11 is a 42-room hostel-cum-hotel in a 1920s property. Rooms are basic but good value, with a retro 1970s character, satin quilts and pastel-coloured paint schemes, and they also have clawfoot baths. Alas, the lift is temperamental (00 1 415 9317475; 606 Post St at Taylor St; from US$62). A budget hotel for art fans, Hotel Des Arts 12 has rooms painted with jaw-dropping murals by underground street artists. It’s like sleeping inside a painting. Standard rooms are less exciting (and some are without bathrooms), but great value with smart design touches (00 1 415 956 3232; sfhoteldesarts.com; 447 Bush St; from US$145). Parker Guest House 13 is the Castro district's most stately gay- and straight-friendly digs occupying two Edwardian mansions. Details are elegant, but never precious. Rooms are stylishly furnished with supercomfortable beds. The garden is ideal for a lovers’ tryst (00 1 415 621 3222; parkerguesthouse.com; 520 Church St; from US$165). 110

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16 Panoramic views of San

The stylish rooms at Hotel Des Arts really are works of art

Like a love letter to the jazz era, Hotel Bohème 14 has inverted Chinese umbrellas hanging from the ceiling and photos from the Beat years on the walls. Rooms are smallish but the hotel is in the middle of North Beach’s vibrant street scene (00 1 415 433 9111; hotelboheme.com; 444 Columbus Ave; from US$180). The Fairmont 15 is one of the city's legendary hotels. The lobby is decked out with crystal chandeliers, marble floors and towering yellow-marble columns. Rooms sport luxurious, Regencystyle furniture and a royal blue-and-gold colour scheme (00 1 415 772 5000; fairmont.com; 950 Mason St; from US$260).

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2011

Francisco abound at Cavallo Point Resort (previously Fort Baker). Select a contemporary room with soaking tub and floor-to-ceiling windows framing the Golden Gate Bridge, or snuggle up in former historic officers’ quarters, complete with fireplace and downy quilts. As the sun sets over the bay, watch the twinkling lights of the city from rocking chairs on the veranda before dining at Michelin-starred Murray Circle restaurant (cavallopoint.com; from US$570). Diana Russler BONJOUR VIETNAM

17 Le Colonial is an exquisite French-Vietnamese restaurant with a romantic setting. You feel as if you've been transported to Vietnam. The steamed Chilean sea bass wrapped in banana leaves, finished with the banana split, is a requisite. This was the highlight of my trip (00 1415 931 3600; lecolonialsf.com; 20 Cosmo Place; mains US$16–US$33). Aysha Begum

THE WORLD ON TAP The Monk's Kettle has the most amazing array of beers, probably over 100. It is quite an eye-opener to see the number of taps behind the bar. There is also a great selection of wine, and the best veggie (well vegan actually) chilli I have ever tasted, and I normally avoid veggie food! I cannot fault it at all (00 1415 865 9523; monkskettle.com; 3141 16th St; noon-2am; beers from US$5, mains US$8–US$28). Alison Strong

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FIND OUT MORE Lonely Planet’s San Francisco (US$18.99) is a comprehensive guide to the city, while San Francisco Encounter (US$12.99) is a pocket-size edition. You can also download the chapter from the California guide at lonelyplanet.com (US$4.95). Get to know the city better in Armistead Maupin’s Mary Ann in Autumn. For practical information, log on to onlyinsanfrancisco.com.

COMPILED BY PAULA HARDY, WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM ALISON BING AND JOHN A VLAHIDES. PHOTOGRAPHS: MARK READ, ALAMY

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PRIZE DRAW

WIN

3 DAYS/ 2 NIGHTS STAY* AT SWISSÔTEL MERCHANT COURT’S EXECUTIVE SUITE THE PRIZE

This great prize includes: • 2 nights accommodation in an Executive Suite • Daily breakfast for 2 adults • Swiss Executive Club benefits

HOW TO ENTER

To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic prize, simply fill in your details on the entry form and send it to: Lonely Planet Asia Sep/Oct 2011, 3 Loyang Way Singapore 508719. Alternatively you can email lpcontests@regentmedia.sg, titled Lonely Planet Asia Sep/Oct 2011 – SWISSÔTEL MERCHANT COURT Promotion with your full name, ID number, contact number and address. Competition closes 31st Oct at 11.59pm. Terms and conditions apply.

READER OFFER PRIZE DRAW ENTRY FORM For your chance to win this fantastic prize, fill in your details and post this form to: Lonely Planet Asia SEP/OCT 2011, 3 Loyang Way Singapore 508719

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For enquiries and room reservations, please call +65 6337 9993 or email reservations. merchantcourt@swissotel.com

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Swissôtel Merchant Court Singapore 20 Merchant Road, Singapore 058281 Tel: +65 6337 2288 Fax: +65 6334 0606

Regent Media Pte Ltd may contact you with details of our products and services or to undertake research. If you prefer not to receive such information from any of these companies by post or phone, please tick this box . * Please include your email address on your entry if you prefer to receive such information by email. We may occasionally pass your details on to carefully selected companies whose products and services we feel may be of interest to you. If you prefer not to receive such information by post or phone, please tick this box .

Terms & Conditions. This prize does not include air flight tickets to Singapore. This promotion is open to all except staff of Regent Media and sponsor. Prizes must be taken as provided and are not transferable or exchangeable for cash.

Endless Weekends at Swissôtel Merchant Court Singapore Be it a short getaway from home or to relax after a party at Clarke Quay, stay at Swissôtel Merchant Court and enjoy breakfast and late check-out until 2.00 pm. In addition, receive a 20% discount on total food bill when you dine at Ellenborough Market Café or Blue Potato restaurant.

Email: singapore-merchantcourt@swissotel.com www.swissotel.com/singapore-merchantcourt

Winners will be notified by post, email or phone and prize is to be collected at address stated on notification letter. The management reserves the right to replace items with those of similar value. The management’s decision is final and no further queries will be entertained. Entry information may be used for future marketing and promotional purposes.

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WIN

3 DAYS/ 2 NIGHTS STAY* AT SWISSÔTEL MERCHANT COURT’S EXECUTIVE SUITE

WORTH

US$4,100

Swissôtel Merchant Court, Singapore is a deluxe hotel ideally located close to entertainment and dining hotspots such as Clarke Quay, Boat Quay and Chinatown. The close proximity of the MRT to the hotel makes Orchard Road, Raffles City, all major tourist attractions and the financial hub at Raffles Place, within easy reach.

Business Executive floors offer luxurious rooms and suites with upgraded amenities, including access to the Swiss Executive Club lounge. Facilities include a choice of two restaurants, a bar, Amrita Spa & Wellness, a free-form swimming pool, 24-hour fitness centre, a pillarless ballroom and four function rooms.

The 476 guest rooms and suites serve the demand of all travellers and offer a choice of accommodation options. The

* Terms & conditions apply

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Lonely Planet Magazine Asia - 2011 Sep/Oct  

The world’s leading travel magazine, is packed with inspiration to see familiar destinations in the UK and Europe through fresh eyes – backe...

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